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Opponents of the Mariner East pipeline project accused officials of failing to inform the public of a leak from the Mariner East 1 line on April 1.

Pipelines: The new battleground over fracking

Background

Pipeline wars are raging in Pennsylvania, where production is high and pipeline capacity is low. Marcellus Shale gas has the potential to alter the landscape of the global energy market. But right now, a shortage of pipelines to get that gas from the wellheads to consumers means rock bottom prices for producers, who are eager to dig new trenches. Activists opposed to more drilling see pipeline construction as the new battleground over fracking.

In our six-part series on Pennsylvania’s pipeline building boom, StateImpact examines who wins and who loses in the next phase of the natural gas rush.

Part One: Pipelines: The new battleground over fracking

Pennsylvania’s pipeline building boom could expand the nation’s and perhaps the world’s, supply of natural gas. This boom includes an estimated 4,600 miles of new interstate pipes, tunneling under Pennsylvania’s farms, wetlands, waterways, and backyards.

Part Two: Pipelines’ path remains a risky mystery beneath our feet 

Pipeline companies know exactly the routes for all the pipelines they maintain or plan to build, but they aren’t required to share that information with the public in a post-9/11 world. Even when it comes to interstate pipelines, the large ones that carry lots of gas at high pressure across multiple states, those are only required to be mapped within 500 feet of accuracy.

Part Three: Unmapped, unregulated maze of rural pipelines poses hidden risks

Pennsylvania expects the industry to add 20-25,000 miles of gathering lines, which are pipelines that take gas from wellheads to a larger transmission line or gas processing facility. Most of these so-called “class one” lines will be in rural areas and no state, federal or local authority oversees them. This lack of regulation can lead to dangerous consequences.

Part Four: In New Jersey, open space sacrificed for cheaper gas

Industry says these large interstate pipelines will benefit rate-payers, especially those in areas where energy costs are high like New York and Boston, and feed cleaner-burning fuel to large East Coast power plants. But the lines cut through areas of rare open space in New Jersey, where land has been preserved with public dollars, forcing residents to weigh the environmental costs of moving natural gas to the marketplace.

Part Five: New pipeline could mean tax bonanza for NJ towns, but for Pa.? Not so much 

Pipeline builders also say local communities will benefit from new jobs and tax dollars. But those tax benefits aren’t equal across state lines and while New Jersey could reap millions of dollars a year in new revenue, Pennsylvania could be leaving millions of dollars on the table.

Part Six: Towns take on gas industry, at their own peril 

Local communities across the state increasingly see themselves as the losers. Faced with little influence over interstate pipeline construction, some are trying to stop the surge in oil and gas development by embracing a novel legal tactic: community-based rights ordinances. It’s a strategy that carries risks.

Latest Posts

New gas pipeline capacity sharply exceeds consumption, report says

Charges that the U.S. pipeline industry is building far more natural gas pipelines than it needs are being fueled by a new report showing that the capacity of lines approved by federal regulators over the last two decades was more than twice the amount of gas actually consumed daily in 2016. The report by the [...]

Mariner East 2 pipeline completion delayed again

Sunoco Pipeline’s parent company, Energy Transfer Partners, said Wednesday that its Mariner East 2 pipeline will be put into service in the second quarter of 2018, some 18 months later than originally planned, because of delays caused by Pennsylvania regulators. Chief Financial Officer Tom Long said during the company’s third-quarter earnings call that the project [...]

Plaintiffs ask judge to revoke ‘illegal’ Mariner East 2 permits

Three environmental groups urged a judge to revoke some environmental permits for the Mariner East 2 pipeline without holding a trial, saying there are ‘undisputed’ facts showing that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection broke the law in issuing the permits. Clean Air Council, Delaware Riverkeeper Network and the Mountain Watershed Association filed a motion [...]

PUC’s West Goshen ruling cheers advocates for local control over pipelines

Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission halted Sunoco’s plans to build a valve for its Mariner East 2 pipeline in Chester County’s West Goshen Township, raising questions about whether the massive cross-state project will be completed on time, and encouraging advocates for local control over gas development. The commission voted unanimously on Thursday to uphold a judge’s [...]

Marcellus Shale boom cuts costs for Pennsylvania ratepayers

Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale gas boom has significantly cut energy costs for consumers across the state, according to a new study released Friday by the University of Pennsylvania. Residential gas customers have seen a price drop of 40 percent on average, compared to costs ten years ago. Before Marcellus production ramped up, Pennsylvania produced just one percent [...]

Water problems persist along Mariner East pipeline route despite court intervention

Water impacts continue at numerous Pennsylvania sites where Sunoco is building the Mariner East 2 pipeline two months after a court-brokered agreement. The settlement between environmental groups and Sunoco Pipeline was designed to prevent horizontal directional drilling from damaging aquifers and spilling fluid into wetlands. Data from the Department of Environmental Protection show 18 “inadvertent [...]

Pipeline critics say blog post seeks to discredit them with ‘fake news’

Opponents of Sunoco’s Mariner East 2 and other pipelines have disavowed an anonymous blog post that linked them to a supposed attack on construction equipment used for the Pennsylvania pipeline. The post, with the headline “Action Against Mariner East 2 Pipeline” had originally claimed an act of sabotage was done in solidarity with groups opposing [...]

Pipeline opponents sue Sunoco, alleging constitutional violations

Four opponents of the Mariner East 2 pipeline sued Sunoco Pipeline and its parent, Energy Transfer Partners, in federal court on Monday, alleging the company violated several constitutional rights when police arrested the plaintiffs on a private property in Huntingdon County. The suit accuses Sunoco, plus a private security firm, a publicist, and 27 state [...]

Homeowners say Sunoco breached protective order during pipeline construction

A group of Delaware County homeowners ramped up a war of words with Sunoco Pipeline on Thursday, accusing it of violating a court order that forbids company representatives from contacting residents during construction work for the Mariner East 2 pipeline. And Sunoco’s lawyers began the process of applying to a judge for a writ of [...]

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