The Truth on the Environmental Impact of Pipelines

Time and time again pipelines have come under fire. This time a report is claiming billions will be lost over PennEast and Mariner East 2 pipelines. However that is simply not the case.

The report, commissioned by New Jersey Conservation Foundation, found that those two pipelines “could cost communities up to $2.4 billion in environmental damage and lost services.” One point the study claims is the loss to industries such as agriculture and logging. In reality the natural gas and oil industry contributes nearly $44.5 billion to the state’s economy according to The American Petroleum Institute. Mariner East alone has the potential to generate $9.1 billion for the Pennsylvania economy.

The natural gas and oil industry also supports nearly 322,600 jobs and provides nearly $23 billion in wages. These staggering statistics of immense economic benefit are conveniently omitted in the report.

Another point missed by the report is the safety of Horizontal directional drilling (HDD). HDD is acknowledged as an industry best practice and the safest means of construction. HDD is environmentally sensitive, causing minimal impact on the surrounding area.

Bill Godsey, former geologist for the Texas Railroad Commission, notes:

“This is a technique of installing pipe and materials by drilling under existing structure instead of cutting through them with an open-cut, trench. The method is widely considered an industry best-practice, specifically for protecting the integrity of sensitive geographies, like aquifers and high water tables.”

During construction fluids can escape, what’s known as an “inadvertent return,” but the mud is not harmful, it is simply a mixture of water and non-toxic bentonite clay that has no harmful environmental impact. In fact, many everyday products like makeup are made using bentonite.

Godsey says: “Ultimately, 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.”

Pipeline construction and operation are also not harmful to the environment or individual homes.

According to Philadelphia economist Kevin Gillen he often hears one common misconceptions from people “building a pipeline anywhere can result in environmental damage and that it could result in a decrease in nearby property values as a consequence of increased energy infrastructure going through a residential area…In both cases, the answer is that it is generally not true.”

Data from the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration shows pipelines are the safest, most environmentally friendly way to transport energy resources. It is time to get the facts straight on pipelines and stop ignoring the many benefits in favor of listening to a few loud, fringe ideological voices.