WEST CHESTER (February 14) – State Senator Andy Dinniman on Wednesday introduced three bills to protect residents’ properties and the public’s natural resources against harm from the growing number of natural gas pipeline projects coming through the region.
Dinniman’s legislative package will require the Department of Environmental Protection to make sure residents are notified of upcoming projects in their communities; will require the DEP to post public documents on its website so residents can better learn about proposed projects; will protect taxpayer-funded agriculture and conservation easements by requiring pipeline operators to replace any they build on; and require pipeline operators to get the approval of Pennsylvania’s Agricultural Lands Condemnation Approval Board before condemning any Act 43 agriculture easements.
Dinniman said he was pleased by the early bipartisan support shown for the bills, whose co-sponsors include southeastern Pennsylvania Republican Senators John Rafferty Jr., Ted Erickson, and Charles McIlhinney.
“I believe my pipeline bills are resonating with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle because we all see more and more natural gas being piped through our districts as it goes from Marcellus Shale drilling sites to market, be it ports in Philadelphia, Wilmington or Baltimore or anywhere else,” Dinniman said. “I am not against natural gas. What I am for is making sure our communities are not treated as an afterthought as natural gas companies install new pipelines to get their product to market as quickly and cheaply as possible.”
Even prior to the start of Marcellus Shale drilling in 2004, 62 of Chester County’s 73 were criss-crossed by natural gas pipelines. Since then, additional local projects include Transcontinental’s nearly completed 7-mile replacement project; Columbia Gas Transmission’s proposal to install a second pipeline next to its existing pipeline along the 8.8 miles between the Eagle Compression Station in Upper Uwchlan and West Bradford; and Inergy Midstream’s Commonwealth Pipeline project, which as proposed would be a 130-mile pipeline between Lycoming County and the Eagle Compression Station.
“Chester County was already pipeline central and the number of new pipeline proposals is only increasing,” Dinniman said. “Unfortunately, our state laws and procedures currently do not give landowners and residents the rights and accessibility to information they need to protect their properties, local waterways and other natural resources against unnecessary harm. I want to change that, and I know area residents and municipalities do too.”
On Dec. 12, more than 150 Warwick Township residents packed into their township building to find out about the Commonwealth Pipeline proposed to cut through their backyards and the Hopewell Big Woods nature area in northwestern Chester County. In January, the West Vincent Board of Supervisors unanimously came out against the project due to its impact to local farms, waterways, wildlife and local habitat.
Senator Dinniman’s Public Notification and Access to Information Act is Senate Bill 504. His bill requiring acre-for-acre replacement of conservation and agriculture easements within counties of the first, second and third classes is Senate Bill 506. His bill requiring board approval of any condemnation of Act 43 agricultural easements within counties of the first, second and third classes is Senate Bill 507.
For more information contact Senator Dinniman’s West Chester Office at (610) 692-2112, or e-mail email@example.com.