U.S. Government Drags Feet on Issuing Pipeline Permits in PA, 150 Wells Sit Waiting

You can drill and produce gas all day long from a Marcellus Shale well, but if you can’t get the gas from the well to a large interstate pipeline, it’s all for naught. Right now there are 150 natural gas wells that can’t go into production in Pennsylvania because smaller “transmission” pipelines are not getting built fast enough to meet demand. The reason? The U.S. federal government.

The federal government should not impose more rules on the state’s natural gas industry, a Pennsylvania congressman said on Tuesday.

The state Department of Environmental Protection already is responsible for overseeing the industry and federal intervention could slow growth, U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster told industry executives at a conference in Pittsburgh.

Shuster, R-Hollidaysburg, Blair County, said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to impose more regulations and another level of permitting on natural gas pipelines. More than 150 natural gas wells in the state cannot be put into production because federal permits for needed pipelines have not been issued.

An urgent need for safety upgrades and the booming Marcellus shale drilling industry make Western Pennsylvania a hot spot for pipeline work.

"They will shut them down," Shuster said, if the federal government is allowed to add more regulations. "The state DEP will (oversee the industry) in an environmentally sound way," he added. Shuster heads a House subcommittee on railroads, pipelines and hazardous materials.*

*Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Mar 23, 2011) – Federal meddling in natural gas spurned