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Environmental and Social Costs of Natural Gas Pipeline Development in the Delaware River Basin

Posted June 13, 2019

A new study finds that development of natural gas pipelines and associated infrastructure is resulting in significant costs to the environment and communities in the Delaware River Basin (DRB). The costs that can be quantified could be as much as $2.4 billion for two pipelines alone — in addition to costs that can’t yet be quantified. Among the key findings:

  • Mariner East 2 and PennEast would disrupt about 2,200 acres of land in the DRB for pipeline construction and long-term operation. These costs would result in a present-value loss of ecosystem services of about $11 million for Mariner East 2 and $43 million for PennEast.
  • One million people consume water from public water systems that could be at risk of contamination or degradation due to the PennEast pipeline, and another 85,000 due to the Mariner East 2 pipeline. PennEast would also risk contamination to 792 domestic wells, with another 785 at risk from Mariner East 2.
  • As of February 2019, there were about 240 inadvertent returns of drilling fluid to land and water along the Mariner East 2 route, and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection had issued 94 notices of permit violations.
  • Even using a relatively high jobs factor, all forms of renewable energy or energy conserving job options evaluated would be expected to create more jobs than PennEast — from 2,744 to 13,719 additional jobs for the same level of investment.

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