Public utility projects impacting private landholdings usually pit residents against corporations or government agencies that seize land through eminent domain. But in the Pennsylvania Marcellus Shale, Pike County residents and political officials appear to be siding with the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Co. in fighting the National Park Service, according to the Pocono Record.
What's behind the pipeline?
Tennessee Gas Pipeline must complete an update of its pipeline infrastructure by the end of 2013. Aged cracked or otherwise damaged 30-inch gas pipelines pose a danger to people and must be regularly tested and upgraded. The upgrades will generally replace the miles of existing pipeline that stretch from the Northeast to ports along the Gulf Coast.
What's the problem in Pennsylvania?
The renovation has been approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It's just a matter of where it will be built. Most residents of Milford support the commissioners who say it makes more sense for the pipeline to pass through one mile of relatively deserted parkland than seven to 10 miles of private residential areas. The Pike County Courier reports the detour passes about 750 feet from Delaware Valley High School and 300 feet from the Milford Convalescent Home.
Why is the National Park Service denying the right of way?
When Tennessee Gas Pipeline originally approached the National Park Service, officials were told the right of way was too narrow and additional drilling and excavating would go outside the lines of the original right of way permit. Milford officials dispute this assertion, saying that suggestion was based on faulty information gathering by DWGNRA Superintendent John Donahue. Donahue says he's concerned with disruptions to the quiet and serenity of the national park.
Do all Milford area residents agree with local officials?
The pipeline runs through the Marcellus Shale, the huge natural gas deposits that have been an economic boon to Pennsylvania. Some residents are generally opposed to all pipeline or drilling activity associated with drilling the Marcellus Shale.
What is the economic impact of the pipeline upgrade project?
The 40-mile upgrade has a lot of economic benefits for state and local governments, but those elements are sometimes lost in the bitterness of the infighting between factions. A study by the Rutgers University School of Planning and Public Policy provided income and employment projections and maps of the project for the gas pipeline company.
Anthony Ventre is a freelance writer who has written for weekly and daily newspapers and several online publications. He is a frequent contributor to Yahoo in news of interest in Pennsylvania.