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A judge's ruling allows opponents of the Mariner East 2 pipeline to argue their case in court.

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

FERC pushes back timeline for PennEast pipeline again

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) says it needs more time to issue its final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the $1 billion PennEast pipeline project, shifting it’s planned release from February 17 to April 7, 2017. FERC says additional information provided by state agencies, as well as the PennEast Pipeline Company prompted the delay. [...]

New pipeline rule requires quicker reporting of accidents

Federal pipeline regulators are requiring operators to report accidents more quickly, and they are tightening rules on conducting drug and alcohol tests after an accident. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is also setting up a new procedure for recovering its costs for reviewing the design of some new pipelines, and is requiring operators [...]

Gov. Wolf says Mariner East 2 pipeline permits could be approved

Responding to a question from a reporter at an event hosted by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia last week, Gov. Wolf indicated he supports approval of the required state permits to build the controversial Mariner East 2 pipeline project. When questioned by 6abc anchor Matt O’Donnell about permit delays Wolf said “We’re working [...]

Lancaster County pipeline opponents prepare for encampments

Anti-pipeline activists in Lancaster County are preparing to engage in nonviolent civil disobedience to block a proposed natural gas transmission line. The group Lancaster Against Pipelines is spearheading the effort. Activists have built two wooden structures near Conestoga, which they intend to occupy if and when crews begin work on the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline. Williams, [...]

Friends and foes of Constitution Pipeline await appeals court ruling

Nine months after heavily armed federal marshals patrolled a tree-cutting operation for the proposed Constitution Pipeline on a northeast Pennsylvania maple tree farm, the pipeline’s builders and its critics are awaiting a court ruling that may determine whether the project can proceed. The Williams Companies is appealing a decision by New York State that denied [...]

Ten stories from 2016 worth hearing again

As the year winds down, we’re looking back at some of StateImpact Pennsylvania’s best radio reporting. From an unconventional election season, to continued controversies over pipelines, and a global climate conference, we covered a lot of ground on the airwaves in 2016. Take another listen: Drilling downturn In 2016 Pennsylvania’s drilling industry went through a [...]

State lawmakers discuss ways to improve pipeline safety

State lawmakers, regulators, oil and gas industry representatives, and concerned citizens discussed ways to improve pipeline safety at a joint committee hearing Wednesday, following a building boom of new projects and several recent incidents in Pennsylvania including one work accident that killed a man and a pipeline explosion that left another man severely burned. “When everything’s [...]

Trump’s election overshadows pipeline protests around the U.S.

Activists are holding a national “day of action” Tuesday to protest the controversial Dakota Access oil pipeline. Native American groups’ opposition to the project has gotten a lot of attention recently, but it’s just one of many pipeline battles going on across the country. And Donald Trump’s election and his stance in favor of fossil fuels are [...]

U.S. fines Sunoco for pipeline safety lapse after valve incident injures workers

Sunoco’s pipeline division suffered the latest blow to its safety reputation on Thursday when the federal government proposed to fine the company $251,800 for an accident in which five workers were hurt during maintenance of a valve in Wortham, Texas last year. The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration said Sunoco Logistics failed to properly [...]

A new front emerges in the battle against eminent domain

Eminent domain attorneys and their clients battling new pipelines in Pennsylvania courts feel they may have a new weapon in the fight against controversial projects like Sunoco’s Mariner East. The recent decision by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court to toss out industry-friendly provisions of the state’s oil and gas law included eminent domain for gas storage. [...]

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