Pipelines in the Taylorsville Basin? Wherever there are fracking wells, there are pipelines. So, if fracking is allowed in the Taylorsville Basin, there will be pipelines. Didn’t think about that? Probably also didn’t think about how the land will be acquired for the buried pipelines. Think Eminent Domain, where your land is taken regardless of whether you want it or not.
Virginia passed a constitutional amendment in 2013 that protects us, eh, so we are safe. Actually, no. The eminent domain protection is embedded in Code Section 1-219.1. Limitations on eminent domain. But, that only applies to things entirely within the Commonwealth.
Virginia won’t have any say in whether your land can be taken if the pipeline crosses state boundaries. The Federal Energy Regulatory Agency (FERC) has jurisdiction in those cases. If a company, like Dominion, wants to hook any gas from a fracking well found in Caroline County into either the proposed Atlantic Coast (ACP) and Mountain Valley (MVP) pipelines, as lateral lines, FERC can approve those lateral lines, and Virginia has no say in it. The same struggle faced in the western part of Virginia will come to the Tidewater Region.
FERC, a federal agency, has been around since the 1980’s and has rejected many pipeline applications – right? So they will act in the best interests of all – correct? Actually, no. Since 1999, FERC has rejected only 2 pipeline applications out of 400.
So what are the types of pipelines? There are transmission pipelines and distribution pipelines. Transmission pipelines, like the ACP and MVP, move gas at high pressure from a collection point (called “gate stations”) to “regulator stations”, where the gas is distributed to customers, under less pressure. During transit, compressor stations maintain pipeline pressure, with the number of stations dependent upon how far the gas has to travel.
Is natural gas always transmitted via pipelines to the end user? Yes. Only liquid natural gas (LNG) is transmitted via trucks or boats. Otherwise, trucks passing through towns would be bombs on wheels – far more dangerous, and far more costly.
Do pipelines leak? Absolutely – at every stage. There are many links to articles on this website that describe how much escapes and where. The where is easy – everywhere. At every point in the natural gas life cycle, from drilling to transmission to the ultimate end user, methane leaks into the atmosphere, from the well to gathering, transmission, and distribution pipelines, through compressor stations, into power plants. And for a final whammy, when it arrives are the customer’s site, it is burned, converted into CO2 and other noxious emissions, that contribute to global warming.
Here’s a recent story that discusses how executives from natural gas companies call their increasingly cheap and plentiful fuel the world’s best answer to climate change because it produces about half the carbon dioxide of coal when burned in a power plant and it can fuel trucks, trains and ships. However, a study published in the scientific journal Nature put methane emissions from the U.S. oil and gas industry at about 13 million metric tonnes per year, 60 percent higher than the official U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimate. Carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. energy sources, meanwhile, are around 5 billion tonnes.
Any other problems? Oh yeah! Explosions occur fairly frequently. There are many linked articles on this website that discuss the number and severity of pipeline explosions. Or try Wikipedia for a List of pipeline accidents. Or try here for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. Or simply google pipeline explosions. Are there injuries and fatalities? Is the air and water polluted? Yes.
So remember: fracking = pipelines.