Adorers of the Blood of Christ take pipeline protest to court

People sit at an outdoor chapel on the property of the Adorers of the Blood of Christ in Columbia, Pennsylvania, in early July. The chapel was built by Lancaster Against Pipelines in cooperation with the congregation as a symbol to block the Atlantic Sunrise natural gas pipeline, which opponents say would desecrate God's creation. (CNS photo/Mark Clatterbuck, courtesy Lancaster Against Pipeline)

The Adorers of the Blood of Christ are taking their fight against the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline to court. On July 14, five days after dedicating a chapel in the pathway of the planned pipeline, the sisters filed a complaint against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in an attempt to keep the pipeline off their land.

The complaint, which says the pipeline is "antithetical to the deeply held religious beliefs and convictions of the Adorers," utilizes the same freedom of religion law that the Little Sisters of the Poor have cited in their case against the contraceptive mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

In an email to Global Sisters Report, Adorer of the Blood of Christ Sr. Sara Dwyer said, "The complaint filed on Friday was a 'next step' in the Adorers' stand against this pipeline, and a statement meant, again, to publicly withstand the corporate takeover of land by right of eminent domain, especially when, we believe FERC had not considered all the elements for such a decision to move forward."

On July 17, the sisters appeared in federal court for a hearing on an earlier request by Williams — the company building the pipeline — to expedite seizure of the sisters' land. No ruling was issued, and the court is in recess until Thursday.

The Adorers are one of an estimated 32 local landowners who have refused to sell their land to Williams. The Atlantic Sunrise pipeline would be a $3 billion, 183-mile extension of the Transco pipeline system that currently runs 10,200 miles from Texas to New York.

Williams has already sought to obtain some Pennsylvania lands via eminent domain, that is, the government's ability to seize private property for public use. The company says the project would help provide inexpensive natural gas to the economically disadvantaged, keep energy costs low and support thousands of jobs.

[Dawn Araujo-Hawkins is a Global Sisters Report staff writer. Her email address is daraujo@ncronline.org. Follow her on Twitter: @dawn_cherie.]

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