Important Note: This GoFundMe was previously used to support legal fees associated with the unjust incarceration of Ellen Sue Gerhart, who was held in jail for two months for peacefully protecting her family’s land from the Mariner East 2 pipeline. Now that Ellen is thankfully free and back with her family, we are continuing to support Ellen in her family’s continued fight against the pipeline project.
About the Gerharts: Ellen Sue Gerhart is a retired special ed teacher and longtime Huntingdon County resident who has lived on her family’s land for 35 years in peace. Nearly four years ago, her tranquil retirement was abruptly disturbed with a notice that pipeline builder Energy Transfer Partners (ETP) planned to build a polluting, volatile natural gas liquids (NGL) Pipeline straight through her land in order to supply raw materials for plastics manufacturers in Europe.
The Gerharts never gave Energy Transfer permission to build a pipeline through their land, but ETP seized it anyway using eminent domain law. For the past four years, Ellen and her family have been outspoken, compassionate, and selfless leaders in their advocacy against the pipeline. The Gerharts hosted Camp White Pine on their land, a longstanding tree sit that effectively prevented pipeline construction on the family property for 741 days.
On July 27, 2018, four officers with the Huntingdon County Sheriff's Department arrested Ellen on her own property - likely in retaliation for her tireless work to protect her family's land and Pennsylvania's waterways from Energy Transfer Partners' (ETP) Mariner East 2 Pipeline. On Friday, August 3, after a week in solitary confinement, Ellen was sentenced to two to six months in jail and a $2,000 fine by a judge who had obviously predetermined his sentence before Ellen ever showed up to court.
Since deciding to oppose ETP, Ellen and her family has been subjected to harassment, intimidation, surveillance, and violence, but continue to persist in their work. The Gerharts are currently using all legal avenues to oppose the project, including contesting the permits granted to ETP and the abuse of eminent domain. The Gerharts also levied a federal civil rights lawsuit against Energy Transfer Partners, private security contractor TigerSwan, the Pennsylvania State Police, the Huntingdon County Sheriff Department, and a creator of a fake grassroots facebook page called PA Progress over continuous harassment the family has faced since deciding to oppose the pipeline project.
About Mariner East: Damage from the Mariner East pipeline extends well beyond the boundaries of the Gerhart's property. Since construction of Mariner East began, there have been nearly 200 documented spills along the pipeline route. Over a dozen households have lost access to their well water due to pollution related to the pipeline's construction. And poor construction practices led to the formation of dangerous sinkholes in densely populated areas, exposing communities to grave public safety risks.
Now more than ever the Gerharts need support. In addition to the $22,000 raised and spent to support Ellen’s legal costs, we are now raising an additional $28,000 to support their critical legal challenge to the pipeline’s permits. We are grateful for any and all support.