Penna. Landowners Object to Tree Cutting for Constitution Gas Pipeline

by Duane Nichols on February 1, 2016

Maple Syrup Farm under Imminent Threat

Standoff Imminent as Penna. Family Opposes Pipeline Tree Cutting Thru Maple Syrup Operation

Press Release from Cathy Holleran & Megan Holleran, North Harford Maple Syrup Farm, New Milford, PA

New Milford, PA — Constitution Pipeline Company received federal permission to cut trees Friday afternoon on properties in Susquehanna County, including those obtained by eminent domain condemnation and through a commercial maple syrup operation.

A partial Notice to Proceed with non-mechanized tree cutting was issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Friday afternoon for the Pennsylvania portion of the Constitution Pipeline. Tree cutting is imminent and can begin any time during daylight hours today through March 31, the deadline set by FERC.

The Constitution Pipeline is a project of Williams Pipeline Companies and Cabot Oil & Gas to be used to transport shale gas obtained through the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking”. The right of way would be at least 100-ft wide, with additional intermittent 50 foot wide workspaces and access roads.

One New Milford family, led by Catherine Holleran and her daughter, Megan Holleran, have opposed eminent domain condemnation of an access road, an additional workspace, and more than 1,670 linear feet of their own property, which is used for maple syrup production by their family business, North Harford Maple.

Megan Holleran said, “This is our land and family business. The pipeline has been years in permitting and we just staged our equipment to set up for this year’s syrup production. If they cut the trees now, they would destroy our equipment and that’s criminal. That’s property destruction. We asked them to speak with our attorney before cutting and that hasn’t happened yet. I’m ready to stop them by standing in the right of way if they try.”

In February 2015, federal judge Malachy Mannion in Scranton ordered that the Holleran property and several others in Susquehanna County be condemned using eminent domain for the private use of Constitution Pipeline Company. No construction activities proceeded after that, as state and federal agencies extended their reviews of archaeology, impacts on endangered species, and wetlands.

In a cease and desist letter served on the company by the Holleran family on Friday, Catherine Holleran wrote, “We assert our Fourth Amendment rights, enshrined in the U.S. Constitution, that we must receive compensation before eminent domain condemnation. As compensation hearings have yet to be held, we find any action to develop our property to be unconstitutional. We hope that your client will proceed with good faith negotiations with our counsel prior to any tree cutting, especially given their affinity for the name ‘Constitution Pipeline’.”

North Harford Maple Farm Location: 2131 Three Lakes Road, New Milford, PA.

Coordinates: 41.8272387, -75.7585062

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Photo above by the Scranton Times Tribune, from the Article titled: “Property owners brace for Constitution pipeline eminent domain.”  You can buy the photo here.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

John Speaks ... February 2, 2016 at 4:20 am

Private property is private property. No eminent domain for private gain.

The goons are out again. This is shameful.

If a company wants property, let them buy it through direct negotiation with the landowner or homeowner. If they can’t meet the price the property owner asks, then no deal.

Any judge who rules in favor of eminent domain for private gain (and NO ……. pipelines are NOT a public service!) should be removed from the bench and lose any right, now and in the future, to ever occupy that or a similar position.

It is unconstitutional. Period.


S. Thomas Bond February 4, 2016 at 10:00 am

Constitution Pipeline Company doubtless just sees trees. Trees are all over the hillsides, there are about three trillion of them in the world, what’s a few more or less? Why pay so much for trees, just because they have sweet sap?

Nothing is said about price in the article, but I’d bet none of the people who work in rooms heated in winter and air-conditioned in summer buy their maple syrup thinking about trees and what it takes to get syrup out of the trees and into the bottle. Or that the maple trees take decades to replace in the farmer’s income.

These trees are not junk, they are standing capital in a productive industry. The judge’s duty is clear: no condemnation without just compensation. Hollerans should be compensated for their capital, loss of income for an indefinite long time, extra work crossing the right of way and aesthetic loss.

This is more externalized cost of the industry – cost of their initiative put off on someone else.


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