PSU Pipeline Violates Community Bill of Rights

by: Posted on: April 02, 2013

By Braden Crooks, Groundswell

(March 21, 2013) Penn State’s plan to convert its campus power plant to natural gas has crashed head-on into the rights of the citizens of State College, PA, as enumerated in Article XI of their borough charter. The plan to feed this power plant with fossil fuels, which sits on the boundary of Penn State’s main campus and downtown State College, calls for a high-pressure gas pipeline snaking through residential neighborhoods and past local businesses. The citizens of State College, together with citizens of neighboring Ferguson Township, have risen up against it.

The details of the pipeline follow in a fact sheet [from the original article].

Unlike many citizen battles with dangerous fossil fuel projects, which focus on relatively trivial details of the project like zoning laws and state regulation, the people of State College approved a Bill of Rights banning such unsustainable infrastructure on the basis that it violates their environmental rights to clean air, clean water, a sustainable future, and threatens their local health safety and welfare. When this Bill of Rights was enacted by a 72% super-majority in 2011, the charter amendment was meant to establish a basis for local, democratic decision making on issues of energy infrastructure –especially when it involved fracking and fracked gas. This local self-determination is being exercised now, and could be the first time in America that a pipeline has been fought on the basis it will violate the rights of the people.

On Monday, March 18th, the first citizens reacted to the pipeline proposal at a State College Borough Council meeting. As news coverage builds for the Groundswell of support for the Bill of Rights, more and more citizens are joining the pipeline fight. The pipeline is dangerous, and could explode as so many do, and the pipeline violates the rights of the citizens, but it is also unnecessary because the power plant could be replaced with renewable energy. The citizens, who are demanding to have their right to stop the pipeline recognized, are also calling for a collaborative investigation into alternatives and are willing to help Penn State find an equitable energy alternative.

By enacting their Bill of Rights in 2011, the people of State College sent a message of hope and solidarity for a sustainable future, in which our economy, democracy and environment thrive together. We are proud to have lead that fight, and welcome all those who now fight this pipeline into the Groundswell. To all in State College and elsewhere who would like to get involved, please email us: let’s work together, and take responsibility for creating a better future.

Copyright, Groundswell. Reprinted with permission.


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