There are nearly 600 linear miles of existing pipeline corridors that cross through the landscape of Chester County's 760 square miles. The goal of this Pipeline Information Center webpage (the PIC) is to provide information to residents, pipeline operators and other Chester County stakeholders, including farmers and non-profit land trusts and conservancies with large preserves, that are commonly crossed by pipelines. The structure of the PIC has been designed to address stakeholders' concerns.
Key stakeholder concerns include:
- Safety: By far the most common concern raised by residents and landowners is about pipeline safety. These include fear of gas leaks, explosion, and the long-term effect that living near a gas line might have on their children.
- Improved Communication: Another frequently occurring issue is the perception that pipeline operators do not sufficiently inform the public of proposed projects, or expediently notify landowners when pipeline operator staff will be walking on their property.
- Pipeline Saturation: Residents in communities with a large number of pipelines often express frustration that they already have many pipelines and are "saturated." These residents feel that they are bearing more than their fair share of pipelines, and that any new pipelines should cross communities that are less saturated.
- Natural Resource Impacts: Common environmental concerns include potential impacts to water quality, impacts to stream crossings, the loss of open space, and the removal of woodlands and personal yard landscaping.
- Land Value Impacts: Landowners are concerned that environmental impacts and real or perceived safety concerns about pipelines could lower their property values. Property Rights: Landowners are often unclear as to the exact nature of the property rights that pipeline operator possess when the operators own a right-of-way, work space or other development rights.
Pipeline operators are also key stakeholders and their input was essential for the successful design of the PIC. At a meeting held in summer 2013, operators noted the following:
- Operators use technical terminology that the public does not understand which can cause confusion.
- Operators must deal with both renters and owners which can cause complications for notification.
- Operators focus on coordination with land owners (which may or may not be the resident) whose property contains a pipeline right-of-way.
- Operators recognize that there are perceived gaps in communication with the public.
- Operators need to balance transparency with the need to keep proprietary information private so they can remain competitive in the marketplace.
Pipeline expansion projects and new lines have continued to be an issue to county residents. To date, no public or private entity has determined how many new miles of pipelines need to be constructed to transport natural gas from the Marcellus Shale formation to markets for consumption. An additional issue is that it has been reported the Commonwealth's current pipeline infrastructure system is not fully equipped to carry the volume of gas produced at the pressure needed to transport it to the market. A report from the Pennsylvania chapter of the Nature Conservancy estimated that between 10,000 and 23,000 new miles of pipeline would be needed for this purpose.