Pennsylvanians Block Natural Gas Facility, 2014-2015

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Timing
Time Period:  
March 21
2014
to
February 6
2015
Location and Goals
Country: 
United States
Location City/State/Province: 
South Heidelberg, Pennsylvania
Location Description: 
Rural Pennsylvania community
Goals: 
Prevent the construction and operation of a gas-to-liquid facility within the town
 

South Heidelberg is a rural Pennsylvania community in Berks County with natural gas reserves. On 3 March 2014, the South Heidelberg planning commission gave preliminary approval to a Canadian corporation, EmberClear,to construct a gas-to-liquids (GTL) facility in the town. The facility would primarily harvest natural gas resources from the town. EmberClear planned to use an unspecified chemical catalyst to convert natural gas into liquid gases, such as propane, and ship the gasoline through underground pipelines. At the time, only five GTL facilities existed globally, none of which were located in the United States.

Homeowners and other residents of South Heidelberg were furious when the planning commission released news of the approval. With growing concern over environmental hazards, terrorist threats (such facilities were considered potential targets at the time), and the safety of community members, residents held a meeting on 21 March and created a non-profit organization called South Heidelberg Township Community Association (SHTCA). This organization was founded with the primary goal of stopping the construction of the EmberClear GTL facility. On 26 March, SHTCA called for door-to-door petitioners and the creation of a website, which was launched later that month. The group held a meeting on 3 April in a local childcare center to discuss their methods. These methods included further petitioning, the sale of yard signs reading “STOP the GAS REFINERY,” and the sale of shirts reading, “Act Now or Live With This Forever.”

On 10 April, SHTCA members attended a meeting of the township’s Board of Supervisors and spoke for four hours about their concerns. One community member, Carolyn BryNildsen, expressed fear, saying, "the energy you're feeling in this room is we're scared to death. What are you guys thinking? I have two little boys who mean the world to me. This will hurt us."

Soon after the events of the meeting, local newspapers, such as the Reading Eagle published articles about the impending financial struggles of the EmberClear project. The Berks County Board of Supervisors canceled meetings with EmberClear’s officials in late April 2014, but SHTCA did not stop their sale of shirts and yard signs, or their petitioning. On 6 February 2015, James Palumbo, a project manager for Emberclear, announced the EmberClear project was canceled and the GTL facility would not be built within the township.

SHTCA is still functional today, with a robust Facebook presence, and the organization continues to advocate on behalf of South Heidelberg residents.

Research Notes
Influences: 

not known

Sources: 
Cusick, Marie. 2014. “Economics may hinder Berks County gas-to-liquids plant.” State Impact Pennsylvania. April 11. Retrieved March 24th, 2019 (https://stateimpact.npr.org/pennsylvania/2014/04/11/economics-may-hinder-berks-county-gas-to-liquids-plant/?fb_action_ids=10202893642574238&fb_action_types=og.recommends&fbclid=IwAR17TFut_71PJqZf0uroS7Obcyyts5EMmtFQCgfYuVBmpqQ2joQCsQaNBl0).

Gas Truth. 2014. “South Heidelberg Organizes to Oppose GTL Facility.” April 8. Retrieved March 24th, 2019 (https://web.archive.org/web/20190529184245/https://gastruth.org/?p=1907).

Nojiri, Matthew. 2014. “Canadian company submits plans for natural gas facility in South Heidelberg that could cost up to $1 billion.” Reading Eagle. March 3. Retrieved March 24th, 2019 (https://web.archive.org/web/20190529184359/https://www.readingeagle.com/news/article/canadian-company-submits-plans-for-natural-gas-facility-in-south-heidelberg-that-could-cost-up-to-1-billion).

Nojiri, Matthew. 2014. “Developers of planned natural gas plant in South Heidelberg may be seeking another site.” April 17. Retrieved March 24th, 2019 (https://web.archive.org/web/20190529184449/https://www.readingeagle.com/news/article/developers-of-planned-natural-gas-plant-in-south-heidelberg-may-be-seeking-another-site?fbclid=IwAR2sruQxdIA_PoTr82xB5b3lZBtUC0u6ErVmXhUmYGXi4vcX-iD8-j8ZCaQ).

Nojiri, Matthew. 2015. “EmberClear Corp. drops plans for natural gas plant in Berks County.” Reading Eagle. February 6. Retrieved March 24th, 2019 (https://web.archive.org/web/20190529184546/https://www.readingeagle.com/news/article/emberclear-corp-drops-plans-for-natural-gas-plant-in-berks-county?fbclid=IwAR3HPdzDFuJkV_s-N2_s5ZGhv0WqDF0Y2nLIRZcj1-Xq80e4pp3igA1re4M).

Nojiri, Matthew. 2014. “Natural gas facility in South Heidelberg takes its first step.” Reading Eagle. March 5. Retrieved March 24th, 2019 (https://web.archive.org/web/20190529184614/https://www.readingeagle.com/news/article/natural-gas-facility-in-south-heidelberg-takes-its-first-step).

Nojiri, Matthew. 2014. “Residents grill South Heidelberg Township supervisors about gas project.” Reading Eagle. April 11. Retrieved March 24th, 2019 (https://web.archive.org/web/20190529184655/https://www.readingeagle.com/news/article/residents-grill-south-heidelberg-township-supervisors-about-gas-project?fbclid=IwAR3EGxihICC9LEfpzfdIfsIas05nkGW0ezCASas-5VCK8rSh6_3T094NbPg).

Nojiri, Matthew. 2014. “South Heidelberg Township residents plan fight against proposed natural gas plant.” Reading Eagle. March 18. Retrieved March 24th, 2019 (https://web.archive.org/web/20190529184808/https://www.readingeagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?avis=RE&date=20140319&category=NEWS&lopenr=303189812&Ref=AR&fbclid=IwAR3X7_LN-rADjYUdmiGlz1DXA2rTAFx0-nYEx_Fqs3jk7-ukhkcR9vqjZ94).

SHCA. 2014. “Stop the South Heidelberg Gas Refinery.” n.d. Move On. Retrieved March 24th, 2019 (https://petitions.moveon.org/sign/stop-the-south-heidelberg.fb56?source=s.fb&r_by=243268)

Shell Global. n.d. “Gas-to-Liquids”. Retrieved March 24th, 2019 (https://web.archive.org/web/20190529185050/https://www.shell.com/energy-and-innovation/natural-gas/gas-to-liquids.html).

South Heidelberg Township Community Association. n.d. not here. not now. not good. South Heidelberg: n.d. Retrieved March 24th, 2019 (https://web.archive.org/web/20150220131633/http://southheidelbergca.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Not-Here-Not-Now-Flyer.pdf).

South Heidelberg Township Community Association. n.d. Yard Signs. South Heidelberg: n.d. Retrieved March 24th, 2019 (https://web.archive.org/web/20150220103940/http://southheidelbergca.com/yard-signs/)

South Heidelberg Township Community Association. 2014. Facebook, March 26. Accessed March 24, 2019. (https://www.facebook.com/shtca/posts/553277464770012)

South Heidelberg Township Community Association. 2014. Facebook, April 17. Accessed March 24, 2019.(https://www.facebook.com/shtca/posts/563351577095934)

Name of researcher, and date dd/mm/yyyy: 
AV Lee-A-Yong, 29/05/2019