Preparing for the PA pipeline boom

Pennsylvania’s big pipeline boom is steadily on its way, and the state is preparing for its arrival with a new task force aimed at establishing best practices for keeping massive infrastructure projects safe.

About 30,000 miles of new pipeline has been projected to be constructed in the state over the next two decades to move the glut of gas pulled from the Marcellus and Utica shales, said Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley at the task force’s first meeting.

“We are in the midst of a wave of energy development that is unlike any other in the state’s history,” Quigley said at the meeting.

Quigley told StateImpact Pennsylvania that he expects the industry to add up to 25,000 miles of gathering lines and an additional 4,000 to 5,000 miles of interstate pipelines in the next 20 years.

Big pipeline projects are already underway across Pennsylvania, which has many residents worried about how the infrastructure will affect the environment, home values and people’s safety.  

While the state’s gas plays present an “an immense economic opportunity for the commonwealth,” Quigley told members of the task force that environmental and community impacts need to be taken into consideration.

“Governor Wolf wants this industry to succeed and recognizes that the infrastructure challenge is a major one, and we need to work together to find the win-win opportunities to connect these wells to markets,” he said.

From StateImpact PA:

He said the proposed collaborative approach has already been proven in Pennsylvania by a working group that established standards on where to site wind farms, and which has become a national model.

The state could also become a national leader if it can show that it can build a “vast” amount of infrastructure in almost every county while minimizing its negative impacts, he said.

The task force consists of 48 members including federal, state and local officials, gas industry representatives, end-users, state lawmakers, farmers and emergency preparedness officials, according to the article.

The panel’s goals include routing pipelines to minimize community and environmental impacts; facilitate “meaningful” public participation, and create a system of “predictable and efficient” permitting. Quigley said the task force is not intended to produce more regulation on the gas industry.

In addition to the task force members, there are 110 volunteers on 12 workgroups who will present recommendations on subjects including agriculture, natural resource protection, workforce and economic development and emergency preparedness, according to a DEP press release on the task force.

Reach Natasha Khan at 412-315-0261 or nkhan@publicsource.org. Follow her on Twitter @khantasha.