Update from the Marcellus Shale: Oil & Gas Company Responds to EPA Pipeline Opposition

Natural gas drilling around the Marcellus seems to be having a positive effect on Pennsylvania businesses, but concerned residents and environmental advocates want more time and research dedicated to making pipeline construction and surface disturbances less destructive to the ecosystems around them. (image: live.psu.edu)

Central New York Oil and Gas is trying to construct a major gas pipeline through multiple northern Pennsylvania counties, but have hit snags from the EPA and other environmental groups demanding a better assessment of how the pipeline will impact area ecosystems. The company struck back at the EPA this week, saying the agency is caving to environmental lobbyists and creating problems where there are none, StateImpact Pennsylvania reported this week.

The proposed pipeline has generated approximately 20,000 comments from the public, most of which join the EPA in requesting the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) conduct a more extensive environmental study on how surface disturbances like pipeline projects affect surrounding ecosystems and wildlife communities.

CNYOG criticized the EPA’s involvement in the proceedings as well as its methods for garnering support for more cumulative analysis of pipeline construction.

“It is difficult to envision how any future pipeline project will be able to surmount opposition armed with a computer and a blog capable of generating tens of thousands of electronically generated, unsigned letters of opposition from individuals located literally anywhere on the planet,” the CNYOG release said. The company’s full statement is available here.

The EPA contends that because natural gas development has gained such speed and momentum as more companies try to capitalize on the gas-rich shale, better environmental assessment needs to be implemented. Leaky pipelines and unacceptable drilling waste removal has already led to serious water contamination – studies found carcinogens, radiation, mercury, and arsenic, to name a few, in drinking water sources in more than a dozen states.

“There are enough environmental and public health issues of concern and significant public interest, and arguably public controversy…to warrant a full environmental impact study,” the EPA stated. The agency’s full commentary is available here.

So far, it seems likely CYNOG’s pipeline project will go forward alongside late-coming environmental studies from FERC. Check back for updates as more details unfold.