Fringe Pipeline Activists Need To Understand What They Are Arguing About

Anti-infrastructure activists across Pennsylvania have hyperbolized arguments against pipeline construction based on ideological arguments about their presumed local safety implications.

Pipelines are the safest mode to transport energy resources. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Safety Administration details that “Although pipelines exist in all fifty states, most of us are unaware that this vast network even exists. This is due to the strong safety record of pipelines and the fact that most of them are located underground. Installing pipelines underground protects them from damage and helps protect our communities as well.”

The most environmentally conscious method to install the pipelines underground is horizontal directional drilling (HDD). However, many of the anti-infrastructure activists who claim to profess environmentally conscious arguments oppose the use of HDD in local pipeline construction. Former geologist for the Texas Railroad Commission Bill Godsey explains that “HDDs remain the industry standard for protecting environmental resources. A pipeline company should not be overly punished because it sought to employ a more environmentally friendly approach to building a pipeline project”

A recent piece posted by the activist site Dragonpipe Diary flames concerns around construction methods used along the Mariner East 2 pipeline, highlighting plans to use open-cut trenching to install pipe in the Exton area. These are the same groups that have been opposed to HDD installation, which is more environmentally sensitive. Which would they prefer?

Not only are most of the points made in the blog based on ideology rather than fact, but they also fundamentally miss the fact that we need safe energy transport to function as a modern society. These groups who oppose pipeline construction on a wholesale basis not only misunderstand the centrality of this energy to their daily function, but also the regional benefits to come through the expanded energy infrastructure in Pennsylvania. These groups enjoy professing what should not be done, but fail to ever produce positive solutions that will benefit Pennsylvania. Failure to provide solutions only means they are part of the problem.

The Mariner East 2 Pipeline has gone above and beyond to meet federal regulations and local townships safety requirements. These groups opposing pipeline construction across the board have not done their research on the detriment felt by their Pennsylvanian neighbors through delaying the construction. Bill Godsey rightly concludes that “Absolutely, Pennsylvanians should be talking about pipeline safety. But those discussions should not be dictated by exaggeration or subject to knee-jerk reaction. Instead, let’s do things by the book: Write the rules and stick to them. Quit moving the goalposts on the Commonwealth’s energy producers.”