Pennsylvania

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Lancaster County residents criticize pipeline proposal

Protesters opposing the pipeline stood outside the Lancaster County Commissioners meeting  Tuesday.

Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

Protesters opposing the pipeline stood outside the Lancaster County Commissioners meeting Tuesday.

A proposal to build a natural gas pipeline through Lancaster County is angering many residents.

It was standing room only as concerned residents packed a public meeting this morning between the county commissioners and the pipeline company, Oklahoma-based Williams Partners.

Williams is seeking to transport natural gas from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale to markets along the Eastern Seaboard as part of its $3 billion Atlantic Sunrise expansion project. There are currently no plans for the gas to be used within Lancaster County.

Williams operates the Transco system which has over 10,000 miles of pipeline moving gas to other businesses, like utility companies and power plants.

“Transco transports between nine and ten percent of the natural gas consumed in the United States,” Williams public outreach manager Cindy Ivey told the commissioners. “This [Atlantic Sunrise] project would increase Transco’s capacity by about 20 percent.”

The proposed line– known as Central Penn South– runs the western edge of Lancaster County along the Susquehanna River. Much of it would follow existing utility corridors and cut through several nature preserves– including Tucquan Glen and Shenk’s Ferry Wildflower Preserve.

Williams spokesman Chris Stockton says the route is still very preliminary and the company is in the process of scheduling an open-house for residents to learn more about the project.

“We will have very detailed maps there,” says Stockton. “And experts from the company that will be able to answer questions and ultimately make changes to the route– tweak it this way, move it that way.”

None of the nearly 30 people who spoke at commissioners meeting supported the project. Many raised concerns about safety, property values, and environmental degradation.

Tim Spiese of Martic Township says he’s most concerned about the quality of life for people living along the pipeline as well as the county’s nature preserves.

“I can’t understand why we’d threaten even one square inch of those properties,” he says.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is charged with siting the placement of interstate pipelines. Lancaster County government has no legal authority in the process.

If approved by FERC, representatives from Williams say the pipeline would not be operational until 2017.

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