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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

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 [...]

Sunoco contractors challenge residents’ presence on pipeline right-of-way

On a rainy Saturday afternoon in Delaware County, three residents of Thornbury Township stepped over a spray-painted line marking the edge of a right-of-way where a contractor for Sunoco Pipeline was preparing land for construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline. The response from one of about eight hard-hatted workers was immediate: he got on [...]

DEP says Sunoco violated agreement on Mariner East 2 drilling

Sunoco Pipeline violated a court-brokered agreement imposing new restrictions on drilling for its Mariner East 2 pipeline when it spilled drilling mud into at least three waterways, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection said on Tuesday. “The spills constitute a violation of the permit conditions, which were modified by the Aug. 9 settlement agreement,” said [...]

DEP issues violation to Sunoco for another spill of drilling fluid

Pennsylvania officials issued a Notice of Violation to Sunoco Pipeline on Wednesday following another spill of drilling fluid, this time into the Susquehanna River at a Mariner East 2 pipeline site in Dauphin County. The Department of Environmental Protection said the spill was about 50 gallons of bentonite, non-toxic drilling fluid, and was inspected by [...]

Chesco township plan would give municipalities more control over pipelines

Chester County’s Uwchlan Township is proposing a sweeping set of regulations that would impose new local restrictions on the development of future pipelines and give municipalities more control over where and how pipelines can be built. The measures are included in a five-page document that was adopted as a resolution by Uwchlan Township on Aug. [...]

Mariner East 2 builder sues North Dakota pipeline protestors

The pipeline builder behind construction of the Mariner East 2 pipeline has sued activists who protested the company’s Dakota Access line in North Dakota last year. Energy Transfer Partners, which recently merged with Sunoco Logistics, filed a federal racketeering lawsuit in North Dakota on Tuesday. The complaint alleges environmental groups, including Greenpeace, as well as [...]

Lawmaker asks Pa. attorney general to investigate pro-pipeline emails

Hundreds of emails in support of the Mariner East 2 pipeline have been sent to the office of a state lawmaker in the names of individual residents, some of whom deny sending them. State Rep. Leanne Krueger-Braneky, a Delaware County Democrat who has been an outspoken critic of the Sunoco Pipeline project, said Monday she [...]

PennEast foes say company is making false statements in bid for public support

Opponents of the proposed PennEast Pipeline are accusing its builders of making false statements about what the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has said about the project. The PennEast website invites supporters to sign a form letter to FERC urging it to give final approval to the project on the basis that FERC has said the [...]

Judge approves deal to step up water protection during Sunoco pipeline construction

Jon Hurdle / StateImpact PA Benjamin Eckert, a resident of Chester County’s West Whiteland Township, with some 30 cases of bottled water that Sunoco had delivered to his house after water from his well turned cloudy. Sunoco was drilling nearby for the planned Mariner East 2 pipeline, and hit the aquifer from which Eckert and [...]

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