Local resolutions oppose PennEast pipeline, but have no legal teeth

  • Katie Colaneri
A natural gas pipeline in Lycoming County.

Marie Cusick/StateImpact Pennsylvania

A natural gas pipeline in Lycoming County.

Officials in Dallas Township, where a proposed interstate Marcellus Shale gas pipeline is expected to start, have passed a resolution objecting the project.

Dallas joins several other municipalities in Pennsylvania and New Jersey in formally opposing the PennEast Pipeline, which would cross the Susquehanna and Delaware Rivers to deliver cheap natural gas to homes, businesses and power plants on the East Coast. However, local government experts say these resolutions cannot stop or change projects that are federally regulated.

“It is in fact an expression of disapproval on the part of the local governments, but it has no legal force and effect in terms of the siting of these pipelines,” said David Greene, attorney for the Pennsylvania Local Government Commission.

More from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: 

Dallas Township officials’ main concern is the environmental impact potential.

Preliminary maps show the underground lines “bisecting significant environmental resources, including environmentally sensitive lands, preserved open space, preserved farmland, lands protected with conservation easements, woodlands and wetlands,” according to the resolution.

It states the pipeline would go through and cause irreparable damage to Dallas Township lands that are “environmentally sensitive; lands that are preserved by the expenditure of public funds, funds from foundations, non-profit organizations, individual donors and private landowners for the use, enjoyment and permanent protection of open space.”

According to documents PennEast Pipeline Company, LLC has filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the “preferred route” as of November 2014 would cross more than 300 acres of core habitat for plants and animals, as well as 143 acres of wetlands in Pennsylvania. It would also cut through nearly 400 acres of preserved farmland in southern New Jersey.

Minutes from a December conference call with FERC officials suggest PennEast will consider re-routing the pipeline to further avoid sensitive areas.

A spokeswoman for the PennEast project did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

As StateImpact Pennsylvania has reported, companies are investing billions of dollars in Pennsylvania to move record-breaking amounts of Marcellus gas to market. However, many of these projects face significant opposition from communities concerned about their impact on the environment and property values.

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