TGP Northeast Energy Direct Pipeline – Will it Help or Harm?

There’s a proposal in place to build a high-pressure natural gas pipeline to run from Pennsylvania through New York state into Massachusetts, where it would join with existing pipelines that connect to the Massachusetts and Canadian coasts. This controversial pipeline is intended to carry natural gas from the Marcellus (and perhaps Utica) Shale field. The voices on both sides of the issue are getting louder – and more contentious – every day.

While no one disputes the need for inexpensive energy, proponents tout job creation and lower energy prices as reasons to approve the pipeline’s construction, while opponents cite both the source of the natural gas itself and the anticipated disruption the construction will cause as reason enough to stop the project. They also dispute the number of jobs the project will create in the long term, some saying the number will actually be in the single digits.

Proponents say that the gas is needed to supply a region where energy prices are already at a premium, thereby substantially lowering consumer costs. Detractors say that an equivalent savings in efficiency could be realized by simply fixing the many leaks in the existing pipeline network. They also say that the pipeline will deliver far more gas than can be used in the region for the foreseeable future, requiring further shipment of overflow supply to other locations.

Proponents say that the pipeline will be built safely, ensuring the environment is protected. Detractors point out that the project has already been made exempt from its legal obligations to follow either state or local environmental laws or restrictions and can simply take whatever land they want – including protected and environmentally-sensitive areas – by eminent domain, and that the company’s past performance does nothing to instill confidence that laws will be respected.

What is the best course? Do we build a pipeline or not?

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