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Natural Gas Pipelines: Regulation and Risk for North Carolina

Today, we released a report entitled Natural Gas Pipelines: Regulation and Risk for North Carolina. The natural gas pipeline system is all around us, connecting our homes, businesses, and increasingly, our power supply, to the production, processing and transportation side of the industry. But people frequently don’t understand the risks associated with the natural gas pipeline system, or what to do if a pipeline company wants to put one through your land. The report is aimed at de-mystifying the pipeline system, its regulation and opportunities for involvement by potentially impacted residents and the general public.

In the case of the newly proposed Dominion Atlantic Coast Pipeline, residents and affected landowners should participate in the process to the full extent possible. The report outlines steps along the way the public can take. Companies must be held responsible for protection of the public they are serving; so all regulatory, construction and route-selection processes must be transparent and include the public from the start. Belinda Joyner, Clean Water for NC’s Northeastern Organizer, based in Garysburg, near the proposed pipeline, attended one of Dominion’s “open house” sessions this week. “The Dominion staff were so eager to be reassuring about pipeline safety, compressor stations and other impacts, that it’s clear the public will need to keep digging to get forthright answers. We’ll make sure the word gets out widely before the next set of public meetings early in 2015.”

A main conclusion in the report is that during the construction of new facilities and infrastructure for natural gas, detailed environmental assessments and public input must be included in the process, in order to reduce or avoid environmental and community impacts, and increase safety through public awareness of the presence of pipelines. Where service areas have been established by a long-standing “certificates of convenience and necessity,” gas companies must be required to file plans for pipeline construction with state Utility Commission officials and notify all parties and local governments potentially impacted.

ngpipelines_map

Map of Natural Gas Pipelines in the US. Source: Energy Information Administration

Some key facts from the report:
– Transco is the major interstate pipeline passing through North Carolina. Though Transco currently runs south to north, it is expected to reverse flow direction in December 2015 and move gas from the Marcellus shale to supply the South.
– Duke Energy and Piedmont Natural gas announced they selected Dominion Resources to design and build a new interstate pipeline to supply NC. Dominion expects to finalize the “Atlantic Coast” pipeline route by summer of 2015, and it will take an estimated 2 years to build the pipeline. Negotiations with landowners to finalize the route could take years, but companies can seize land through eminent domain.
-With the possibility of the fracking industry coming to North Carolina, there would be a need to construct new gathering pipelines to transmit gas from drilling wells to processing plants.

You can read the report here:

 

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