W.Va. should regulate instrastate pipelines

An editorial from The Exponent Telegram

CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — The Marcellus shale gas boom has resulted in proposals for five major gas lines to be built to export, at peak performance, over 10 billion cubic feet of natural gas across state lines to markets in other states and in one case — potentially overseas.

As a result, West Virginia natural gas soon will be fueling power plants in Virginia and North Carolina, factories in Ohio, cracker plants in Louisiana and, if Congress allows it, will be exported as liquefied natural gas from Cove Point, Maryland, to markets in Europe and Asia.

 The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission held a pair of meetings in the area to gather comments on the potential impact of the proposed 42-inch, 550-mile Atlantic Coast Pipeline.

The regulation process is long and arduous. As it should be.

Building extensive transmission systems for transporting natural gas from the Marcellus fields to market is like building an extensive network of superhighways, but rather than utilizing cars and people, it moves natural gas through massive pipelines.

Meanwhile, energy company Momentum has been moving forward on plans to construct its Stonewall Gathering System, a pipeline project stretching roughly 50 miles from Harrison County to Braxton County that would reportedly be as large as 36 inches in diameter in places.

The FERC has no role in approving, siting or routing that pipeline. That’s because federal law only gives the FERC authority to regulate interstate transmission pipelines.

When transmission pipelines stay within one state — known as an intrastate pipeline — then it’s up to the state to determine whether it wants to oversee siting and routing.

Sadly, it appears that West Virginia lacks proper regulatory oversight of these feeder and gathering pipeline systems…

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