This text is from an email alert we sent out on May 22, 2014:
Last week we received word that landowners throughout the Piedmont had begun receiving notices from Spectra Energy, referencing a proposal for a new natural gas pipeline through Virginia. They are distributing a map and a fact sheet in the mail.
We wanted to make sure you are aware of the proposal, as it is one of the larger infrastructure projects proposed through this region in many years. The map they are providing is not very detailed, however, the route it shows would cross through Frederick, Warren, Fauquier, Rappahannock, Culpeper, Madison, Orange and Louisa on its way south to North Carolina.
What We Have Learned So Far
We have put in calls to Spectra Energy, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the VA State Corporation Commission, as well as a number of partner organizations who have a common interest in this pipeline or the resources it would impact.
From these communications, we understand that no application has been filed yet with FERC, but that Spectra may try to do on-site surveys on properties along the potential route as early as next week.
Gas line projects are tricky, because there is a huge amount of natural gas being produced in Marcellus Shale areas and a high demand to gain access to that gas. Regulators are looking very favorably on any project that will enhance our access to that cheap natural gas.
We believe developers and regulators need to approach projects in a way that does not unduly harm the environment or sacrifice safety for rapid construction. Once a pipeline is built, it is there for many years into the future and expansion projects often follow. Our experience in the past has also taught us that when an infrastructure project is proposed, it is rarely the only thing under consideration — there are often associated structures (like pumping stations), alternative routes, the potential for co-located facilities like transmission lines, telecom facilities, etc, and other factors that need to be considered as well.
If you live along the route, or know somebody who does, we suggest that landowners get all the facts about the need and route of this pipeline before agreeing to allow any new right-of-way to cross their property. Gas pipeline rights-of-way are complicated legal documents, and very often give the gas company rights to place more than just underground pipelines on your land. Talking to a qualified attorney about your rights is an important step before making any major decisions about your property.
We will be looking into this issue very closely, and will follow up as we learn more.
Director of State Policy
The Piedmont Environmental Council