You may have read about my ongoing efforts to ensure that natural gas pipelines that have to be installed in our area are done so safely and in a way that ensures the least possible risk to our environment, waterways and drinking water.
Of particular concern is the Williams Gas Pipeline’s plan to install a 42-inch natural-gas pipeline across the east branch of the Brandywine Creek and the nearby Ludwigs Run.
I want to let you know that this week the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection unfortunately approved Williams’ use of the open-trench construction method for this project.
I and a coalition of local environmental organizations, land conservancies and officials interested in the long-term protection of the Brandywine Creek have consistently raised concerns with how this construction method would affect the creek. And in 2009, the DEP agreed to not permit the open-trench method for this particular crossing. At that time DEP officials rightfully suggested that a far better alternative was to install the pipeline far beneath the creek’s surface using the directional drilling technique.
Now, three years later, the DEP has reversed course 180 degrees and said yes to Williams’ request to install the pipeline just below the creek’s bed, and the only thing that has really changed is the administration in Harrisburg.
Despite today’s news, I still believe Williams should be required to install its new pipeline far below the creek’s bed. I still believe that is the only way to protect businesses like Victory Brewing – which depend on the purity of the Brandywine – and to uphold the words of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which require us to preserve our natural resources for ‘generations yet to come.’
From a broader perspective, what is occurring along the Brandywine Creek here in Chester County is really the first battle in Philadelphia’s suburbs involving Pennsylvania’s growing Marcellus Shale industry. In order for natural gas to have value, it has to travel east and get to market. And that requires the installation of additional pipelines across our rivers and creeks, through our agricultural easements, and across our steep slopes, which are already sensitive to development and prone to water run-off and flooding.
Rest assured, I will continue the fight to make sure that Pennsylvania utilizes its natural resources in a way that benefits, not harms, the very people it is supposed to help.
When the legislature reconvenes in January, I will draft and introduce legislation that will address the following issues:
- Increase the transparency of gas pipeline company proposals to the DEP and ensure that access to such information, documents and studies are made readily available to public via the Internet.
- Ensure that as gas pipelines are built and pipeline companies remove trees and vegetation, they have a responsibility to mitigate water runoff concerns and replace easements acre per acre.
As I mentioned above, the production and transportation of natural gas as a major source of energy in our Commonwealth and our nation is a reality. However, we should not and we will not sacrifice the health, safety and well-being of our communities and our environment in order to secure billion dollar profits for massive natural gas pipeline corporations.
Offices of State
Senator Andy Dinniman