Recent technological developments, such as high-volume multistage slick-water horizontal hydraulic fracturing, have created a new industry focused on the extraction of natural gas from shale. Not only are the well pads and methods used to extract shale gas dangerous to human health and the environment, but the development of the supporting infrastructure – in particular the pipeline delivery systems – necessary to move this gas to market is having significant impacts on the environment and communities.
The vast majority of natural gas gets to markets through pipelines. Every new natural gas well pad requires at least one gathering pipeline. A gathering line is typically a 6 to 24 inch steel pipe that can be miles long and carries the raw gas at approximately 350 psi. Ultimately, these gathering lines are connected to larger capacity high pressure transmission pipelines that are capable of moving the gas hundreds of miles to their points of delivery. Smaller distribution lines then take the gas from the transmission line to each individual home/end user.
In addition to the pipelines themselves, compressor stations need to be constructed every 30 to 60 miles in order to boost pressure in the line as it is lost to friction. Other appurtenant facilities, such as valve shut-off joints and pig launchers (delivery points for pipeline integrity monitoring devices), also need to be constructed and integrated into the system.
The primary federal agency responsible for reviewing and approving interstate natural gas transmission lines is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) operating pursuant to the Natural Gas Act. FERC is also responsible for reviewing and reviewing LNG export facilities.
Gas liquid lines and wholly intrastate pipelines are largely regulated at the state level with additional federal permitting required.
We are evolving this Pipelines 101 page to help you learn the ins and outs of all these processes.
Below are some tools to help get you educated, informed and involved.
Sample Questions to Ask of Pipeline Companies Proposal New or Expanding Pipeline Projects for Your Community, by Berks Gas Truth, Pipeline Safety Coalition, NJ Sierra Club, Delaware Riverkeeper Network
LandOwners Guide 2014, by Pipeline Safety Trust
FERC Public Participation Process by Berks Gas Truth
FERC Guide For Interstate Gas Facility On Your Property by FERC
Landowner Rights For Pipeline (written for Atlantic Sunrise Project), by Clean Air Council
Sample Rescind/Deny Letter to Keep FERC Offer Your Property
Interstate Natural Gas Pipelines: Process and Timing of FERC Permit Application Review, by Congressional Research Service
General Fact Sheet- How to Intervene with FERC by Delaware Riverkeeper Network
Preparation for FERC Scoping Meetings, Berks Gas Truth, Delaware Riverkeeper Network, Pipeline Safety Coalition
Guidance on Commenting to FERC - in Writing and Verbally from Stop the (Constitution) Pipeline
Landowner Intervenor Template, by FERC
Pipeline Watch Protocol Forms, by Delaware Riverkeeper Network