WASHINGTON - December 21 - Pennsylvania groups are seeking to intervene in a proceeding before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which has been asked to expedite approval of a proposed pipeline that would cut through portions of northeastern Pennsylvania. The groups are calling on federal regulators to thoroughly review the cumulative environmental impacts of the project before any decision is made.
The 39-mile pipeline, known as the MARC I Hub Line Project, would be built and operated by the Central New York Oil and Gas Company. It would run through Bradford, Sullivan, and Lycoming Counties in Pennsylvania, crossing pristine drinking water sources and fishing streams in the Endless Mountains, disturbing some 610 acres and leaving 238 acres permanently altered.
The groups argue that the project would spur gas drilling in a previously undeveloped portion of the state, bringing with it threats to public health and the environment that have yet to be thoroughly analyzed.
The pipeline proposal comes as other parts of the state struggle with an explosive rate of gas drilling and an outbreak of industrial accidents and pollution related to rushed and irresponsible development. Unlike New York, Pennsylvania has allowed shale gas development and infrastructure construction to proceed without any comprehensive environmental analysis.
The non-profit environmental law firm Earthjustice filed a motion to intervene in the proceedings on behalf of Sierra Club, Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, and the Lycoming County-based Coalition for Responsible Growth and Resource Conservation.
The following is a statement from Earthjustice attorney Deborah Goldberg:
"Pennsylvania rushed into developing the Marcellus Shale with no comprehensive review of the potential effects on public health or the environment. The State was unprepared for the drinking water contamination, air pollution, and dangerous accidents that came with the frantic pace of drilling. It's time to stop scrambling to respond to crises and instead to prevent them in the first place. That's exactly what we're asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to do, and why we're asking it to give impacted communities a seat at the table as it reviews the project. This proposed pipeline is just one of many inter-related gas development and infrastructure projects that industry wants to build in sensitive watersheds and forest ecosystems throughout the Marcellus region. Before federal regulators jump to approve this project, the law requires that they examine it in its larger context."
--Submitted by Nancy Pfaff