Impatient ‘neighbors’ are not out for our best interest
Regarding the Gas Pipeline being planned to connect existing pipelines in Pennsylvania, cross through Maryland near Hancock, go under the Potomac River and connect with Mountaineer Gas in Morgan County, it seems there are a lot more questions and concerns at this point than there are answers.
At a presentation in Hancock last month, the representatives from TransCanada, the company slated to build the connecting pipeline from existing gas pipelines in southern PA to the point in Morgan County where Mountaineer will take over, provided a lot of information about their plans. They stated that they do not yet have all the permits needed to go forward. But they expressed complete confidence that their trenching and drilling methods are minimally damaging to the environment. They said they would be trenching three feet deep across the land, and will drill under the river so that the pipeline will be 75 to 100 feet beneath the bottom of the Potomac. They stressed that the pipeline would not cause any damage to “recreation on the river.”
When asked about potential leaks, they stressed that this stretch of pipeline is “only 3.5 miles long.” They stated they now operate 56,100 miles of pipeline in North America and have an excellent record. When I asked them about the karst in our local geology, they said their engineers are studying that and referred me to their geologists in the room.
We are being given conflicting information about how desperately we need to have this pipeline. It feels like as citizens we are not being provided with facts. Some who support this pipeline are saying that Procter & Gamble needs this gas supply to complete their huge operation in the panhandle, but others say Procter & Gamble signed on before there were plans for this pipeline connector. Some say that many property owners in the path of the pipeline are accepting of the minimally disruptive digging and monitoring that will occur. Property owners that I have talked with state that with the pipeline only 3 feet underground they will not be able to drive their heavy farm equipment over it, and that the 75 foot right-of-way TransCanada proposes will not be adequate to accommodate all the trenching and boring equipment needed to build and install it.
We in the panhandle need more accurate information. How will boring through karst disrupt the layers under our land? How will gas leaks affect our water supplies, not only from the Potomac, but also wells, creeks and ponds, irrigation systems?
It is easy to imagine how the property owners along this proposed line feel about the invasion of their property, their livelihoods, their futures. But are the rest of us in the panhandle aware how this plan could affect us all, for better or for worse?
We need more facts and figures, and the truth about potential damages and hazards. We also need the truth about how desperately this 3.5 mile gas pipeline connector is needed.
Yes, we need a boost to our economy in West Virginia. But are we getting a rush job here? Do we want to start giving corporations the right to go on people’s property without their permission and seize it by eminent domain? Is anyone working on other, perhaps cleaner, sources of energy for the panhandle? Maybe we need to take a longer view and begin developing wind and solar energy. Perhaps not instead of this pipeline, but as soon as we can. So that the generations coming up will not have to deal with short sighted mistakes we might make for the benefit of a few impatient “neighbors,” such as TransCanada and Mountaineer.