*Update* Reds Invade Williamsport! Or Do They?
Representative Rick Mirabito, the Pennsylvania House Representative for the 83rd district in Lycoming County, PA held a town hall meeting Thursday evening to discuss the Marc-1 pipeline project (among other things). The meeting was hyped on various anti-gas development websites and opponents were urged to show up in red shirts. Red was the appropriate color, as I’m sure the low turnout and abysmal arguments made against the project should have left Earthjustice and their friends red-faced to say the least. Meanwhile, representatives and supporters of the project made a compelling case for it.
A little background is appropriate. First, the pipeline will be an interstate line, regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). It will be owned and operated by the Central New York Oil and Gas Company and run 39 miles through Bradford, Sullivan and Lycoming Counties. Only one mile will be located in Lycoming County and it will not run through the 83rd District.
This state-of-the art facility exist within a right-of-way leased from private landowners, with protections in place for hunting, fishing and the environment. Out-of-state special interests such as Earthjustice have sought to halt progress on this project and use it as an opportunity to attempt to force a large review on the entirety development of the Marcellus Shale. In doing so, they have levied so many accusations its hard to keep pace. See more on an earlier post describing this background of the project here.
Of course we want you to have facts, not misinformation, so here are the actual facts associated with this needed project:
Fact: Pipeline construction will create 600 high-paying jobs immediately – many of them lasting up to a year. Eight to 10 permanent jobs will also result at two compressor stations. The price tag will approach $300 million, two-thirds of which will stay in Pennsylvania.
Fact: The FERC environmental assessment was thorough, involved substantial community input, and produced a comprehensive 300-page report on all potential environmental issues associated with this project.
Fact: FERC has sited over 16,000 miles of major intrastate pipeline in the last ten years at a cost over $47 billion dollars.
Fact: There are over 300,000 miles of natural gas pipeline in the United States.
Fact: Pipeline construction will be specially timed to minimize any negative impact on migratory birds that traverse the area.
Fact: High tech drilling techniques will be employed to lay pipe under sensitive environmental areas avoiding the need to dig a trench.
Fact: CNYOG has worked with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, PA Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, PA Department of Environmental Protection, PA Fish and BoatCommission, PA Game Commission, PA State Historic Preservation Office, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Bradford County Conservation District, Lycoming County Conservation District, and the Sullivan County Conservation District to ensure all local, state and federal standards were met or exceeded in planning the project.
The Town Hall Meeting
An astute reader may ask why was there a town hall meeting in a political district the proposed pipeline will not run through? Well, because the Responsible Drilling Alliance and Earthjustice asked for it and the Representative had asked FERC to delay the project until a cumulative environmental impact study could be done. Representative Mirabito, nonetheless, ran a very fair meeting and expressed general support for responsible natural gas development.
Meeting attendees came from as far as Philadelphia to voice their opinions on the project. Most were from Lycoming County with a few from Eagles Mere in Sullivan County. Here is what one attendee from Eagles Mere had to say.
Notice how he begins by complaining that an organization pointed out how many individuals protesting the project came from out-of-state? Well that line was a result of 22,000 form letters that were sent to FERC about the pipeline, mostly from NY . While no one in the room Thursday evening was from out of state, considering the overwhelming majority of attendees were from Lycoming County and Philadelphia, there were very few in attendance who live anywhere near the proposed project.
What we’ve heard from Sullivan County, by contrast, from individuals who will be leasing rights-of-way to the project, is nearly universal support. Once again, we see a small group of people from outside the area of impact, seemingly speaking on behalf of the landowners most directly effected by the project, however doing so in a completely inaccurate way that doesn’t come close to representing the viewpoints of affected landowners.
Most of what was said at the discussion pertained to issues attendees would like to see addressed at a follow-up panel discussion scheduled to take place in September or October. Very little of what was discussed, however, had anything to do with the issues at hand. Watch this video where a man from Sullivan County asks the pipeline company to become a fortune teller and then alleges that FERC is not a trusted regulatory authority. Of course, we see this time and again. Any person, entity, group or organization that does not share their opinion can’t be trusted. They are either bought, a shill, a mouthpiece, sold to the highest bidder or are “unwilling” to see the light as they say.
However, we at EID-Northeast Marcellus tend to believe that an independent agency composed of up to five commissioners appointed by the President of the United States with the advice and consent of the Senate are relatively capable and qualified folks whose judgement is worth trusting.
As a result of this structure. FERC is a very well respected regulatory authority that holds all projects to high standards. The Marc-1 submission, which is exceedingly thorough, demonstrates this, having been prepared under FERC supervision. Special interests however aren’t satisfied with the time and througough preparation put into the impact study for this project. The reason is they hope to stymy all Marcellus development by requiring an EIS for the entire area of the Marcellus, not just the site where the project is located. Here’s what Al Sever (formerly reviewed pipeline permits for DEP) has to say on that.
Most attendees weren’t there to talk about pipelines, though. They were there to oppose all natural gas development, despite support from Representative Mirabito for responsible use of natural resources. One final clip of the evening’s events, where a gentlemen does a fabulous job of explaining why halting development is unrealistic, follows. He discusses how covering the world with windmills still won’t generate enough electricity, because the technology does not currently exist to do it efficiently.
Stay tuned for the dates of the upcoming follow-up panel that will give you the opportunity to hear more about the Marc-1.