Trout Unlimited once again spearheads efforts to ensure natural gas production has minimal effect on the Northeast’s environment

Many wells have been drilled. Well pads, storage pits and a few compressor stations – the huge production infrastructure of hydro-fracturing of the Marcellus shale for natural gas – is mostly in place.

All that is needed is another pipeline to deliver this product to the dense populations along the East Coast. You can bet your boots, if it’s allowed to be installed unchecked and without strong regulations and oversight, natural areas with wild trout, pristine watersheds, clean waterways and vast areas of natural beauty through which the pipeline will stretch, will be spoiled.

To the leaders of Trout Unlimited, putting a pipeline through so many “special areas” without the proper precautions seems crazy.

It’s not that the organization is opposed to energy development, but rather that it wants to be sure that the work is undertaken with significant safeguards in place –and monitored – oversight that is vital for minimal impact on critical fish and wildlife habitat.

The PennEast pipeline project is a joint effort of six energy companies to build a 108-mile, underground pipeline for natural gas transmission from Luzerne County, Pennsylvania to Mercer County, New Jersey. The proposed pipeline path will pass through 88 waterways (which includes the Lehigh and Delaware rivers), 44 wetlands and 30 recreational parks. In all, 85 percent of this project will disturb some portion of the Delaware River watershed.

The companies have already filed with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to begin the process of obtaining the required permits to begin the cutting, digging and general invasion of places that have never known such disturbance.

I just spent a weekend in the Poconos with three Trout Unlimited people, Mark Taylor (Eastern communications director), Katy Dunlap (Eastern water project director) and Paula Piatt (Eastern sportsmen organizer), and all of them have deep concerns about unanswered questions TU has about how PennEast will perform their work with negligible impact, plus ensure protection of the habitat where they will be working.

As is usually the case, the assurance of a cheaper energy source for human consumption, many added jobs and the overall promise of a cheaper, more comfortable lifestyle for people are being touted by PennEast as some of the benefits this pipeline will provide. The group contends that it must be allowed to be constructed, even if does inflict some damage on land and water.

But, of course, the pipeline, which is a bypass through public lands, preserved farm properties and natural resources that are beyond having a monetary value, also will increase the money flow into the pockets of those who supply the natural gas.

Over the weekend I was lucky enough to visit and fish some of the wonderful streams, and view a small portion of the wild habitat through which this pipeline will pass. I cannot even begin to describe the beauty of these places.

To their credit, Trout Unlimited leaders have taken the high road and want only to make sure things are done right, if that is possible. As for me, I hate to see the project done at all because of the risks it poses. That is who I am.

Categories: Blog Content, PenBlogs, Pennsylvania – Ron Steffe

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