HARRISBURG — A task force has been formed to help agencies, the natural gas industry, and communities across Pennsylvania collaborate more effectively as thousands of miles of pipelines are being proposed to transport natural gas and related byproducts to markets from gas wells throughout the Commonwealth.
Governor Tom Wolf, in announcing the new task force on Thursday, said natural gas drilling has outpaced the development of the infrastructure needed to get gas to market. He said he wanted to "facilitate the development of a world-class pipeline infrastructure system." The Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force will "promote unprecedented collaboration of stakeholders," he said.
The task force will include representatives from state agencies, the legislature, federal and local governments, the pipeline and natural gas industries and environmental groups, among others. To be considered for the task force, apply at http://bit.ly/1FPTdi8.
“We need to work with the industry to make sure that the positive economic benefits of Pennsylvania’s rich natural resources can more quickly be realized in a responsible way,” said Wolf. “This task force is part of our commitment to seeing the natural gas industry succeed.”
John Quigley, acting secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, will serve as chair of the task force.
The task force will recommend best practices for planning, siting and routing pipelines to avoid/reduce environmental and community impacts; amplifying and engaging in meaningful public participation; maximizing opportunities for predictable and efficient permitting; employing construction methods that reduce environmental impact; and developing long-term operations and maintenance plans to ensure pipeline safety and integrity.
“Over the next decade, we could see the construction of as many as 25,000 miles of gathering lines," said Quigley. "These are the lines that connect the wells to the processing stations. We can also expect another 4,000 to 5,000 miles of midstream and transmission pipelines in Pennsylvania.”
Overseeing pipeline development is a challenge for the industry and for host communities because no single state or federal agency has sole authority.
In Pike County, many local residents tried unsuccessfully to stop the Tennessee Gas Pipeline Northeast Upgrade, pushed through by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). But last summer the U.S. Court of Appeals agreed with the opponents, and ordered FERC to fully reassess the entire project. The court said the project had been done piecemeal and did not get the rigorous environmental review it should have had.
For more information about the Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force, visit http://bit.ly/1GGenA4.
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