With so many aspects of Marcellus Shale gas drilling for Pennsylvanians to focus on – impact fees and severance taxes, reports of air and water quality hazards, health hazards of Marcellus Shale gas extraction, the passage of HB1950 and how it affects local government control over drilling activities, it’s sometimes difficult to turn our attention to yet another concern. The Wilkes-Barre Times Leader published an article on January 31st entitled “Landowners fight eminent domain in Pa. gas field” discussing the legal complexities of shale gas drilling and pipeline activity in Pennsylvania and why it could affect us here in Pennsylvania.
Here’s the background. Ignoring a recommendation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), state elected officials, and more than 22,000 members of the public, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a controversial pipeline through the Endless Mountains region of Pennsylvania. Central New York Oil and Gas Company (CNYOG) is proposing to construct a 39-mile pipeline through three northeastern Pennsylvania Counties – Lycoming, Sullivan and Bradford. The pipeline, known as the Marc I Hub Line, will transport Marcellus Shale gas and provide transmission between a federally regulated gas storage facility and an existing interstate pipeline.
The proposed project will disturb 591 acres of land in Pennsylvania, will result in the clearing of more than 200,000 mature trees, and the crossing of more than 100 waterbodies. In the process of acquiring enough land to build the pipeline, CNYOG is bullying and using intimidation tactics.
Amy Gardner, one resident from Sullivan County affected by the pending pipeline is facing condemnation on a section of their 175-acre plot and recalls a drilling company representative making her family a very low offer on their land, with an attitude of “take it or leave it,” closed to negotiations.
CNYOG has claimed it has tried to be a good neighbor and has accommodated landowner requests to change the pipeline’s route as best they could, but in some situations cannot because of “environmental, cultural, and biological restrictions as well as other land use constraints.”
Would a good neighbor really proceed with this massive and invasive project after FERC received more than 22,000 public comments expressing concerns about the environmental and safety impacts (and now the legal impacts) of the pipeline? Or after the EPA voiced concerns about how the project could affect the forest ecosystem, waterways, and popular areas where people hike, hunt, and fish. Would a good neighbor condemn nearly half of landowners (74 out of 152) shortly after winning approval for the pipeline, after agreeing to work with the landowners?
The Marc I Hub pipeline might affect only three counties in Pennsylvania, but landowners need to be ready for more of this activity as more and more pipelines and gathering lines are constructed to transport gas from the Marcellus Shale regions to the population centers of the Eastern seaboard.
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