Penn State Researchers Claim Too Many Pipelines Threaten Forests

Researchers from the Department of Ecosystem Science and Management at Penn State have just published a new study/paper in the Journal of Environmental Management titled, “Linear infrastructure drives habitat conversion and forest fragmentation associated with Marcellus shale gas development in a forested landscape” (abstract below). Their thesis: “Fragmentation of ecologically important core forests within the northern Appalachians — driven by pipeline and access road construction — is the major threat posed by shale-gas development, according to researchers, who recommend a change in infrastructure-siting policies to head off loss of this critical habitat.” This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about the hazards of so-called forest fragmentation. Back in 2013 the U.S. Geological Survey published a meme on it too (see USGS Study: Marcellus Drilling Fragmenting Forests in PA). The Penn State researchers maintain clearing pathways for pipelines, and keeping them cleared of trees, is damaging the habitat of some species. The study mentions a lot of other studies, but nowhere (that we could find) does it identify a single, specific species that has supposedly been harmed by such “fragmentation” in forests. The aim, the upshot of this research, seems to be an appeal to regulators to clamp down on the siting of pipelines on PRIVATE (not public) land. It aims to be something the DEP can clutch in its hand and say, “Sorry, we can’t authorize that pipeline ’cause it will cause a break in the forest canopy and certain canopy-dwelling species will be affected.” Right. Excuse us Ms. & Mr. researchers: What about the species that BENEFIT from fragmentation? We didn’t read anything about that in the study. The telltale sign that this is bought-and-paid for propaganda and not real research comes at the end, when you find out it was funded, in part, by the virulently anti-drilling Heinz Foundation…

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