In a letter to Federal Energy Regulation Commission – 2.6.13 the Chester County delegation requested that FERC consider the potential harm to the Hopewell Big Woods as a cost that is too steep to pay.
In Ohio, near the Blackhand Gorge Nature Preserve, Houston-based Enterprise Products Partners cut down trees to make way for the installation of an underground pipeline. The company took down 100 trees owned by a private resident, 300 feet from the state-owned preserve. According to a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, “it appears that a small tract of land owned by the state was impacted without permission”. The county planning commission sent Enterprise a letter indicating that they had violated floodplain regulations. See the Columbus Dispatch article from 02/22/2013.
Columbia Gas Transmission Group submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) plans to expand its pipelines in Gloucester County, NJ and Chester County, PA. According to the The Inquirer
The Chester County segment would run southward from Columbia’s Eagle Compressor Station on Fellowship Road in West Vincent Township. It would connect to the Downingtown Compressor Station on Poorhouse Road near the West Bradford Township municipal building. About 180 property owners would be affected.
The pipeline route will cross Brandywine Creek below Marsh Creek Reservoir, but Columbia plans to go under the creek using a horizontal drilling method to avoid having to trench through the waterway.
A government report says a cyberattack against 23 natural gas pipeline operators stole crucial information that could compromise security. Read more at the Christian Science Monitor.
The Reading Eagle recently wrote about the Commonwealth Pipeline’s path through Berks and Chester County. The article, Right through the heart, indicated that county commissioners want to give access to natural gas service to business owners in northern Berks county along I-78. However to the south along the Berks-Chester county line there is a different point of view that sees the pipeline as a threat to the integrity of an important conservation area.
The Penn State Extension web site contains a post Natural Gas Pipeline Right-of-Ways: Understanding Landowner Rights and Options. The article offers information about pipeline construction and maintenance requirements, the leasing process, and issues landowners might consider when negotiating their right-of-way agreements.
On February 20 at Warwick Township, Supervisors from Warwick, East Nantmeal, West Vincent, Union, North Coventry, and South Coventry Townships; County Commissioners Ryan Costello and Terence Farrell; State Rep. Tim Hennessey; representatives from the offices of Senator Rafferty and Congressmen Gerlach and Meehan, as well as representatives from Natural Lands Trust, French & Pickering Conservation Trust, and Green Valleys Assoc. met in a public meeting to discuss the Commonwealth Pipeline project and how to deal with it.
Four of the six townships, including East Nantmeal, have already passed resolutions objecting to the pipeline as currently proposed in their communities, with the remaining two townships still studying the issues, but expected to follow suit.
There was general agreement among the group that the best initial strategy is to use a coalition approach, with officials on all levels (local, county, and state) contributing as much as they can individually in a multi-pronged fashion. It was also requested that the environmental experts of the land trusts determine the specific impacts that this proposed pipeline would present, particularly as it would run through the Hopewell Big Woods, so that data can be used to strengthen arguments when interacting with the pipeline company and FERC.
Continued education to increase public awareness was acknowledged as an imperative.
While agreeing that stopping pipelines generally is unlikely, the group was optimistic that working together it might be possible to get the company to change the pipeline route away from the ecologically sensitive Hopewell Big Woods area, and into existing ROWs.
Another meeting of the group will be scheduled once the environmental experts assess the impact that the current route would have on our communities.
On February 16, at OJR HS, attorney Carolyn Elefant from Washington, DC gave a comprehensive and informative talk regarding the fundamentals of the FERC regulatory process specifically as it relates to pipeline project approvals. More than 150 concerned neighbors from the affected communities attended.
While discouraging any thoughts that pipelines can be stopped generally from being constructed, Ms. Elefant did explain various strategies that we can employ to avoid or at least mitigate pipeline impacts upon our communities. It is clear if we get organized and are willing to go the distance, we can make a difference in how this pipeline proceeds.
If you were unable to attend, we hope to have an audio recording of the talk posted here shortly.
The Delaware Riverkeeper wrote a letter formally requesting the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) review the Commonwealth Pipeline. A rather complete description of potential impacts from the construction on the watershed accompanied the letter
You can read about the Riverkeep’s effort to engage the DRBC to review the Tennessee Gas Pipeline in Pipeline Protest Shift From Courtroom to Direct Action (Impact Pennsylvania 0/19/2013). For the Commonwealth Pipeline the Riverkeeper seems to be ahead of the review process.
- Pennsylvania’s network of large diameter natural gas pipelines will double and possibly quadruple in the next 20 years.The expansion is attributed to Marcellus shale gas development.
- The expansion could build 10,000 miles to 25,000 miles of new pipeline in Pennsylvania.
- Between 120,000 and 300,000 acres will be affected by natural gas pipeline construction, which is larger than the total area of all other Marcellus related infrastructure. Approximately half of this impacted area will be in Pennsylvania’s forests.
- The expanding network of pipeline rights-of-way will create 360,000 to 900,000 acres of new forest edges. This could eliminate habitat conditions needed by native interior forest species and expose the core forest to invasive species.
Along with encouraging the co-location of new capacity with existing rights-of-way, the Nature Conservancy recommends the development of Best Practices to avoid or minimize habitat impacts.
Penn State Extension offers free webinar on the best conservation practices for shale-gas extraction at 1 PM on February 21, 2013. Scott Bearer and Tamara Gagnolet, of The Nature Conservancy, will discuss their analysis of practices that could benefit the environment. Registration for this webinar is not necessary, and all are welcome to participate by logging in to https://meeting.psu.edu/pscems . For more information, contact Carol Loveland at 570-320-4429 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you missed the webinar, past webinars, publications and information also are available on the Penn State Extension natural-gas website (http://extension.psu.edu/naturalgas), covering a variety of topics, such as Act 13; seismic testing; air pollution from gas development; water use and quality; zoning; gas-leasing considerations for landowners; gas pipelines and right-of-way issues; legal issues surrounding gas development; and the impact of Marcellus gas development on forestland.