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A new 124-mile natural gas pipeline could soon be running from Pennsylvania to New York, after a federal agency found the project won’t have a major impact on the environment.
Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released a final environmental impact statement for the Constitution pipeline, which would run from Susquehanna County, PA to Schoharie County, NY. In it, FERC stated that though the pipeline would have “some adverse environmental impacts,” adhering to environmental recommendations from FERC would result in the impacts being “reduced to less than significant levels.”
The pipeline, which is being built by Williams, Cabot Oil & Gas, Piedmont Natural Gas and WGL Holdings, would carry up to 650 million cubic feet of gas per day. If the pipeline gets all the necessary approvals — now that FERC has released its review, the project must be approved by New York state — the companies want to start construction in February and finish the project by 2015.
As the Times-Tribune reports, the pipeline as it’s now routed crosses over 289 bodies of water, which means that, for many of these crossings, the pipeline company will have to dam the stream or divert water away from the area where they install the pipeline. For a few crossings, the company will lay the pipeline underneath the stream.
Not all residents are happy about the pipeline. New Jersey resident Janet Terchek, who owns property in Susquehanna County, chose to sell the property to the pipeline companies rather than face it being taken away by eminent domain. But she told the Times-Tribune that she doesn’t support the fracking industry, and that she was disappointed that the rural area that she knew as a child was being turned into a natural gas hub.
“I really wanted no part of it,” she said. “I’m done with Northeastern Pennsylvania.”
Constitution is one of several natural gas pipelines that have been proposed and built in recent years, as companies scramble to take advantage of the natural gas boom. Another pipeline, Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct, would also run through the Northeast and has sparked fierce opposition among residents in the state it impacts. The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, which was proposed last month, would carry 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day through the George Washington National Forest, and the 800-mile ET Rover Pipeline would run through West Virginia, Ohio, and Michigan.
Though natural gas pipelines might not get as much national attention as major tar sands or oil pipelines, they still pose major concerns for residents. Natural gas pipelines have more incidents that result in death or hospitalization than other kinds of pipelines, according to the Pipeline Safety Trust — if ruptured, the pipelines can explode, causing fires and, in some cases, death. And because these pipelines often are slated to go through rural parts of the country, residents also worry that the pipeline and noisy compressor stations that can go along with it will disrupt their way of life and disturb the environment.
By Katie Valentine
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Joe Romm is a Fellow at American Progress and is the editor of Climate Progress, which New York Times columnist Tom Friedman called "the indispensable…