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PA Pipeline Task Force Draft Report Out For Public Comment

Pennsylvania’s Pipeline Infrastructure Task Force, appointed by Gov. Tom Wolf over the summer (see Shale Daily, July 8), issued a draft report last week, shedding light on the wide range of issues raised in the ongoing pipeline infrastructure buildout in the Northeast.

The draft report, now out for public comment, details 184 recommendations made by 12 workgroups formed to study different aspects of pipeline development in the state and provide information to the task force.

“This is an important first milestone in developing the framework to help guide pipeline development in Pennsylvania,” said state Department of Environmental Protection Secretary John Quigley, who chairs the task force. “This draft report is the culmination of hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of work done by the members of this task force and by the volunteers on the 12 workgroups.”

The report, citing a presentation to the task force by The Nature Conservancy, said Pennsylvania’s 12,000 miles of large-diameter oil and gas pipelines will quadruple by 2030.

“The footprint of just that expansion is larger than the cumulative area impacted by all other Marcellus gas infrastructure combined, and could exceed 300,000 acres, or 1% of the state’s land area,” the report said. “The movement of natural gas will also require compressor stations, estimated to number in the hundreds, to be built along the anticipated pipeline miles. All told, this pipeline infrastructure buildout will impact communities and the environment in every county in Pennsylvania.”

The 184 workgroup recommendations cover a host of environmental, cultural, economic, public safety and regulatory issues for the task force to address.

A workgroup studying siting and routing of pipelines said the state should conduct additional review of the impacts of intrastate pipelines, which are not regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

“We propose the creation of an interdisciplinary taskforce to examine what cumulative impacts mean for intrastate pipelines,” the workgroup said. “The taskforce would study research projects, case studies, best management practices, planning tools and mitigation programs to come up with appropriate policy recommendations for intrastate pipelines.”

The final task force report is scheduled to be completed by February.

The task force is made up of 48 members representing government, industry, environmental groups and others. Of those 48 members, five represent unconventional oil and gas producers, including EQT Corp., Rice Energy Inc. and Southwestern Energy Co., while six represent the midstream, including Williams, MarkWest Energy Partners LP and Sunoco Logistics Partners LP, among others.

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