Contradictions in the Marcellus Commission Report on Pipelines

  • Susan Phillips

Drilling down into the Marcellus Shale Commission report, we found several contradictory pieces of advice for Governor Tom Corbett. Take pipelines as an example. In the infrastructure section on page 103, section 9.1.2 encourages the Governor to create a “One-Stop” permitting process for pipelines. Currently, the Department of Environmental Protection has oversight when it comes to such things as erosion and settlement controls, and if the pipeline crosses a stream. When it comes to safety, the federal government rules. It’s not clear here, which agency would be the one-stop-permitter. And if they have the staff and resources to do the job. Then move on to 9.1.13, which reads like an excerpt from an industry play book.

“A lead state agency should be designated to alleviate delays in linear pipeline project development and approval; to identify redundant (state and federal) natural and cultural resource reviews which should be eliminated…”

Environmental attorney Deborah Goldberg from Earth Justice calls this a power grab by industry, and a “recipe for environmental disaster.”
But wait, sections 9.1.17 and 9.1.18 look like they must have been written by the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, a member of the advisory commission.

“…under DEP guidance and consistent with applicable permit conditions, allow for County Conservation Districts to engage in inspections of erosion and sedimentation controls at unconventional well sites,…”


“DEP should ensure that natural gas construction activities are required to meet the same standards as general construction activities.”

So, on the one hand, the Commission advises fast-tracking pipeline construction by eliminating certain regulations and consolidating the permitting process. But on the other hand, they want to impose the same standards in place for other construction projects, and give local municipalities some say in what goes through their town.