You are not alone. Pipelines are common in our region and more are being proposed to transport the Marcellus and Utica gas play natural gas liquids (NGLs) such as propane, ethane, butane, and natural gasoline. They are described as liquids because they are moved through pipes in liquid form. In the atmosphere these substances usually take the form of a gas. Last Fall I wrote about PennEast Pipeline Co, LLC, located in Wyomissing, PA, submitting its application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for a permit to proceed with construction of the proposed about $1 billion PennEast Pipeline that will offer natural gas to consumers in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Today, we are discussing a new regional resource about pipelines and a January 20, 2016 DEP meeting.
Chester County has created a helpful website called the Chester County Pipeline Information Center (PIC). According to PIC, there are nearly 600 linear miles of existing pipeline corridors that cross through the landscape of Chester County’s 760 square miles. The goal of the PIC is to provide information to residents, pipeline operators and other local stakeholders, including farmers and non-profit land trusts and conservancies with large preserves, that are commonly crossed by pipelines.
Key stakeholder concerns include:
- Safety: By far the most common concern raised by residents and landowners is about pipeline safety. These include fear of gas leaks, explosion, and the long-term effect that living near a gas line might have on their children.
- Improved Communication: Another frequently occurring issue is the perception that pipeline operators do not sufficiently inform the public of proposed projects, or expediently notify landowners when pipeline operator staff will be walking on their property.
- Pipeline Saturation: Residents in communities with a large number of pipelines often express frustration that they already have many pipelines and are “saturated.” These residents feel that they are bearing more than their fair share of pipelines, and that any new pipelines should cross communities that are less saturated.
- Natural Resource Impacts: Common environmental concerns include potential impacts to water quality, impacts to stream crossings, the loss of open space, and the removal of woodlands and personal yard landscaping.
- Land Value Impacts: Landowners are concerned that environmental impacts and real or perceived safety concerns about pipelines could lower their property values. Property Rights: Landowners are often unclear as to the exact nature of the property rights that pipeline operator possess when the operators own a right-of-way, work space or other development rights.
Pipeline operators are also key stakeholders, operators noted the following:
- Operators use technical terminology that the public does not understand which can cause confusion.
- Operators must deal with both renters and owners which can cause complications for notification.
- Operators focus on coordination with land owners (which may or may not be the resident) whose property contains a pipeline right-of-way.
- Operators recognize that there are perceived gaps in communication with the public.
- Operators need to balance transparency with the need to keep proprietary information private so they can remain competitive in the marketplace.
Pipeline expansion projects and new lines have continued to be an issue to area residents. No one knows exactly how many new miles of pipelines need to be constructed to transport natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation to markets for consumption. An additional issue is that it has been reported the Commonwealth’s current pipeline infrastructure system is not fully equipped to carry the volume of gas produced at the pressure needed to transport it to the market. A report from the Pennsylvania chapter of the Nature Conservancy estimated that between 10,000 and 23,000 new miles of pipeline would be needed for this purpose.
DEP Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force Final Meeting on January 20, 2016
The DEP Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force (PITF) final meeting will be held on January 20, 2016. The meeting will focus on determining which of the 184 recommendations in the draft Task Force Report are most important. The meeting will be held at DEP’s Southcentral Regional Office at 909 Elmerton Ave. in Harrisburg starting at 1:00.
A summary of many of the active pipeline projects is available here.
If you or your business have questions regarding energy law or real estate law, including condemnations or eminent domain, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices, P.C.