[dropcap]N[/dropcap]o one’s fracking your yard or your neighbor’s nor spreading toxic and even radioactive frack water onto the road in front of your house — but you won’t escape the gas industry. It’s not just that the vast amounts of methane its leaking into the air every minute is about as bad for the climate as you can get nor that it’s directly and indirectly tamping down efforts to bring you renewable and cheaper power. No, it’s that the pipelines are here, because they’re everywhere already, and they multiply like snakes at the bottom of a pharaoh’s tomb.
Longtime investigative journalist Ellen Cantarow, who has been reporting about fracking for years, wrote about the pipelines today for TomDispatch. As the battle in Colorado over the right of individual citizens and of larger communities to guard against threats posed by fracking continues to rage — at the ballot box and the legislature, in courtrooms and on the streets — Cantarow’s essay, “No Pipe Dream,” should be required reading.
[blockquote]Of all [its features], pipelines are the industry’s most ubiquitous feature. U.S. Energy Information Administration maps show landscapes so densely veined by pipelines that they look like smashed windshields. There are more than 350,000 miles of gas pipelines in the U.S. These are for the transmission of gas from region to region. Not included are more than two million miles of distribution and service pipelines, which run through thousands of cities and towns with new branches under constant construction. All these pipelines mean countless Americans — even those living far from gas fields, compressor stations, and terminals — find themselves on the frontlines of fracking.[/blockquote]
[blockquote]The letter arrived in the spring of 2011. It offered Leona Briggs $10,400 to give a group of companies the right to run a pipeline with an all-American name — the Constitution — through her land. For 50 years Briggs has lived in the town of Davenport, just south of the Susquehanna River in New York’s Western Catskills. Maybe she seemed like an easy mark. After all, her house’s clapboard exterior needs a paint job and she’s living on a meager Social Security check every month. But she refused.
She treasures her land, her apple trees, the wildlife that surrounds her. She points toward a tree, a home to an American kestrel. “There was a whole nest of them in this pine tree out here.” Her voice trembles with emotion. “My son was born here, my daughter was raised here, my granddaughter was raised here. It’s home. And they’re gonna take it from us?”
Company representatives began bullying her, she says. If she didn’t accept, they claimed, they’d reduce the price to $7,100. And if she kept on being stubborn, they’d finally take what they needed by eminent domain. But Briggs didn’t budge. “It’s not a money thing. This is our home. I’m sixty-five years old. And if that pipeline goes through I can’t live here.”
The Constitution Pipeline would carry shale gas more than 120 miles from Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna County through New York’s Schoharie County. This would be the first interstate transmission pipeline in the region, and at 30 inches in diameter, a big one. Four corporations — Williams, a Tulsa-based energy infrastructure company, Cabot Oil & Gas, Piedmont Natural Gas, and WGL Holdings — are the partners. Williams claims the pipeline “is not designed to facilitate natural gas drilling in New York.” But it would connect with two others — the Iroquois, running from the Long Island shore to Canada, and the Tennessee, extending from the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast into Pennsylvania’s frack fields. This link-up, opponents believe, means that the Constitution would be able to export fracked gas from New York, the only Marcellus state to have resisted drilling so far. [/blockquote]
Any of that sound familiar, Colorado? Read the whole piece now — it’s not that long — at TomDispatch.
[ Image gas pipelines via EIA. ]