325 Miles of Danger

Samantha Luzietti, Contributing Writer

A recent article by Associated Press writer Mary Esch reported that a 325-mile natural gas pipeline is scheduled to be built in January of 2017, serving as an energy link between Pennsylvania and New England. While proponents of the new pipeline argue that building this creates numerous well-paying jobs for the construction workers, it will cut across several people’s personal property, pose safety risks for people living nearby, reduce the value of their land, and waste large sums of money that could be invested in developing alternative renewable energy sources.

Imagine you are recently married and have just purchased your dream home with full intentions of starting a family and playing with your children in your yard. Now, your dreams are crushed by the production of a new natural gas pipeline in your own backyard. Variations of this scenario are a reality for countless  families in Pennsylvania who have fallen victim to the construction of the new natural gas pipeline. According to Food & Water Watch, once the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gives a pipeline company a certificate of public convenience and necessity, the company can condemn private property for constructing and maintaining the pipeline. Once the pipeline is built, people must then worry about explosions and leaks, which are often deadly. Currently, there are hundreds of miles of natural gas pipelines in Pennsylvania that have not gone through routine government safety checks, construction standards, inspections, or any sort of monitoring.

Additionally, the transportation of shale gas through these pipelines increases people’s risk of exposure to radon, which damages DNA and may cause cancerous mutations and shorten a person’s life. If people try to escape this life-threatening living arrangement, they are out of luck. The construction of this pipeline reduces the value of people’s property, which does not leave them with the financial security to begin life fresh elsewhere. Moreover, there are very few people who would consciously purchase land that they know contains a natural gas pipeline because of the countless safety concerns.

According to Pipeline 101, natural gas pipelines are becoming increasingly common across the United States as more than 71 million people, or 22 percent of Americans, rely on them to power their homes and businesses. In the United States alone, there are approximately 2.4 million miles of natural gas pipelines.  The construction of these pipelines across America is a growing problem and needs to be slowed or even stopped completely in order to preserve the safety and fiscal value of people’s property. Even though proponents argue that this increase in natural gas production is better than the use of coal or oil, natural gas still contributes to the problem of global climate change.

Billions of dollars are being wasted to construct this new pipeline in Pennsylvania; that money could be put to better use in developing cleaner alternative and renewable energy sources. As Esch states, the Northeast Energy Direct plans on spending roughly $4 billion in order to construct this natural gas “link” of Pennsylvania and the Northeast. Furthermore, the long-term cost of natural gas pipelines is extremely high. Between 2009 and 2030, it is predicted that $130 to $160 billion will be needed for new pipeline infrastructure. Likewise, the cost of materials for these construction projects is predicted to rise by approximately 25 percent by the year 2030.

Comparatively, according to Windustry, utility scale clean energy-producing wind turbines cost between $1.3 million and $2.2 million per Megawatt of nameplate capacity to construct, which is a fraction of the price of natural gas pipelines. The construction of this Pennsylvania pipeline is causing more harm than good for both local families and the state as a whole. In order to maintain a healthy environment and lessen the impacts of global climate change, Pennsylvania should focus on developing renewable energy sources, like wind turbines, rather than additional natural gas pipelines. It is crucial to leave the planet in better condition than we were born into.

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