Recent pipeline spills, explosions and protests have put the nation’s networks of fossil fuel transport in the spotlight. An Exxon Mobil pipeline spilled thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Yellowstone River this summer, this February a natural gas pipeline explosion in Allentown left five people dead, and police arrested more than one thousand protester outside the White House this summer who opposed a large pipeline project that would run from Canada to the Gulf Coast. On Saturday the New York Times published a piece on pipeline safety, detailing how the country’s watchdog agency for pipelines has little oversight authority and a small number of inspectors.
Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports today that the Laser pipeline company in northeast Pennsylvania has withdrawn its application to become a public utility. That means Laser would not be able to use eminent domain to gains rights of way for its proposed 30-mile pipeline. Thousands of miles of pipelines in Pennsylvania have little or no oversight by any agency. And activists who oppose natural gas drilling have begun to target pipelines as a way to slow down the boom associated with the development of Marcellus Shale gas reserves. Earthjustice, an environmental law firm based in New York, is working with grassroots organizations in northeast Pennsylvania to oppose the Marc1 Hub pipeline. Earthjustice is also working with groups in the southwestern part of the state to prevent the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Servicefrom granting another pipeline company, NiSource, approval to kill threatened and endangered species as part of their pipeline maintenance operations.