Energy. Environment. Economy.


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


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

Chester County residents grill pipeline regulators at meeting on Mariner East

Residents of Chester County’s West Whiteland Township on Monday pressed pipeline regulators for answers on Sunoco’s Mariner East construction after it produced sink holes behind some local homes.

Residents of Chester County’s West Whiteland Township expressed their fears and frustrations to state and federal pipeline regulators at a meeting on Monday some two weeks after sink holes opened up during construction of the controversial Mariner East pipelines in the township. Homeowners asked whether their homes would be affected by drilling through the unstable [...]

Sunoco spills drilling fluid into Lebanon County creek for third time

Sunoco spilled more drilling fluid into a Lebanon County creek on Thursday as it resumed construction for its controversial Mariner East pipelines at that location. The Department of Environmental Protection on Friday issued its latest Notice of Violation to Sunoco for the spill – officially called an “inadvertent return” or “IR” – after the company drilled [...]

On pipeline route, some well owners OK with Sunoco’s water; others are wary

Bob Hoffman of Edgmont Township, Delaware County, says he's OK with a water 'buffalo' that Sunoco installed outside his home. It's to ensure a supply of clean water in case his private well is disrupted by drilling for the Mariner East pipelines.

A field outside Bob and Deborah Hoffman’s Delaware County home is filled with orange construction fencing, a 20-foot industrial curtain blocking their view of some surrounding houses, and hundreds of yards of steel pipeline waiting to be laid as part of the controversial Mariner East project. On the lawn about 50 yards from their front [...]

PUC shuts down Mariner East 1 pipeline, citing public safety concerns raised by sinkholes

Crews work to stabilize sinkholes in a West Whiteland Township neighborhood on March 3. The sinkholes appeared recently near a construction site for the Mariner East 2 pipeline.

Pennsylvania’s Public Utility Commission on Wednesday ordered a temporary shutdown of the Mariner East 1 natural gas liquids pipeline, saying it could have a “catastrophic” effect on public safety if it leaks. PUC Chairman Gladys Brown approved a request by the commission’s Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement for an emergency order that would halt operation of the line [...]

How a reporter’s #NoDAPL photo wound up in the Russia investigations

I stumbled across a Washington Post story this morning that describes how Russia’s Internet Research Agency tried to manipulate the debate over energy-related issues in the United States via social media. The article summarizes a report from a U.S. House committee that includes screenshots of social media posts created by the “troll farm.” I did [...]

Environmental groups seek injunction to halt Mariner East 2 pipeline construction

Several environmental groups have asked the Commonwealth Court for an injunction to halt Sunoco/Energy Transfer Partners’ Mariner East 2 pipeline construction. The Clean Air Council, along with the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, and Mountain Watershed Association, say a settlement reached between Sunoco and the Department of Environmental Protection earlier this month amounts to a breach of [...]

FERC order effectively denies appeals of PennEast approval, critics say

Federal regulators have effectively denied a request to reconsider their approval of the planned PennEast Pipeline, the agency’s critics say. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday issued a “tolling order,” which gives it more time to consider requests for a rehearing of its “Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity” for the pipeline. But the [...]

Landowners brace for eminent domain loss in PennEast pipeline cases

Albertine Anthony has been living in the same picturesque Carbon County farmhouse since she was born 93 years ago, and she’s not going anywhere even if PennEast builds a natural gas pipeline across her land. Anthony, a tiny figure with a slight stoop and a shock of white hair, was offered $37,000 by the company [...]

About StateImpact

StateImpact seeks to inform and engage local communities with broadcast and online news focused on how state government decisions affect your lives.
Learn More »