LACKAWAXEN TWP. - Reminiscent of the 1850 expansion of the Delaware & Hudson (D&H) Canal, required to convey even greater amounts of anthracite coal from the mines through Wayne and Pike counties, the modern natural gas boom is doing what amounts to the same thing.
Instead of fueling a nation with coal, Kinder Morgan’s Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company is helping to supply a cleaner-burning form of fossil fuel. Rather than tapping underground seams of Pennsylvania anthracite and sending it down a gravity railroad to waiting canal boats, Tennessee uses a pipeline extending down a somewhat similar route. That high pressure pipeline, enlarged just a few years ago due to the heavy extraction from gas wells in Pennsylvania’s vast share of the Marcellus shale boom, is enlarging again.
Ever concerned with environmental impact and perceived threats, the Delaware River Keeper Network has asked the Lackawaxen River Conservancy to locate a venue to host a public meeting about the latest pipeline expansion in Wayne and Pike counties. Energy Justice Network and other concerned groups are also among the hosts. The meeting is planned for Tuesday, November 17th at 6:30 p.m., at the Lackawaxen Township Volunteer Fire Department (Route 590, near the Zane Grey Bridge), Winifred Olsen of the Conservancy reported.

••• Purpose

On October 9, 2015, Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, L.L.C. (TGP), a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan, Inc., filed an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for its proposed and fully subscribed Orion Project.
According to the plan, the proposed $143 million project will build approximately 13 miles of additional pipeline adjacent to and connecting with the existing pipeline in Wayne and Pike counties. Referred to as a pipeline “loop”, the new pipeline will be 36 inches wide. The purpose is to allow TGP to transport up to 135,000 dekatherms per day of additional firm natural gas capacity on its pipeline system.
A dekatherm is a unit of heating value often used by natural gas companies instead of volume for billing purposes. To picture how much it is, 180,000 dekatherms (Dth) would power roughly 1.8 million homes annually (if it were used solely for residential purposes).
 The original line is 24 inches wide. The 300 Line loop installed in 2011 is 30 inches wide. Pipeline parallel loops provide a way to increase capacity along what is possible in one line.
This is in lieu of adding additional compression.
The Orion Project is supported by long-term binding agreements with three shippers, South Jersey Resources Group LLC, South Jersey Gas Company, and Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation. Together, these three customers will make use of the transportation capacity to be created by the project.
According to the U.S.Energy Information Administration (EIA), productivity of natural gas wells in the Marcellus Shale and the neighboring Utica Shale is steadily increasing because of improvements in precision and efficiency of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Since January 2012, 85 percent of natural gas production reported by the EIA has been from these two shale regions.
   
••• Where it is

The affected section of the pipeline starts east of Honesdale near Route 652 in Berlin Township, Wayne County and Lackawaxen Township, Pike County. Measuring from Compressor Station 323 near Lake Teedyuskung in Lackawaxen Township, the additional loop extends 8.2 miles west and 4.7 miles east. The section terminates near Route 590 south of Lackawaxen.
This new loop parallels parts of the 127 mile TGP 300 Line loop that was constructed and put into service November 1, 2011.
In addition to installation of new pipeline loop, minor modifications are required to the electrical compressor station.
Plan maps supplied by TGP show proximity to structures, wells, wetlands and so forth. Orange safety fence is to be installed along the edge of construction work areas near structures, with lighted barricades and fences and posts to protect pets and children at yards with existing security fence. Mature trees and landscaping are not be removed unless necessary for the safe operation of construction.
Baseline well testing will be conducted where there is approval of landowners.
The Orion Project is expected to create approximately 275 construction jobs at its peak.
A number of federal and state agencies will be involved with the approval and oversight of the project, including the FERC, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Subject to regulatory approvals, construction is anticipated to begin in January 2017, with a June 2018 in-service planned.

••• Sounding the alarm

Unlike the 19th century D&H Canal project, today’s efforts to mine and transport natural fuel resources are followed closely by organized citizen environmental groups.
“If approved, this new pipeline would seriously impact the Lackawaxen River, its tributaries and wetlands within its watershed,” the Lackawaxen River Conservancy states.
According to the TGP application, the project will cut across 26 streams, including the Lackawaxen River, Tinkwig Creek, Indian Orchard Brook, and West Falls Creek. The proposed Orion Loops 322 and 323 would cut across an additional 47 wetlands, of which at least 19 of these wetlands are forested. The pipeline company states there are at least 10 private water wells located within 150 feet of the pipeline route and 2,126 feet of steep slopes to be traversed by the pipeline.
“Pipeline cuts fueled by gas drilling in the Marcellus shale continue to threaten our communities, our forests, our back yards and some of the cleanest streams of the Delaware River Watershed,” said Maya K. Van Rossum, Delaware Riverkeeper. “In 2011 these same communities suffered from the construction of TGP’s 300 Line and now less than five years later, TGP is back to expand their pipeline system.”
The invitation to the public meeting, sent out by the Conservancy, urges landowners along the right of way to attend and explore their rights when faced with eminent domain, pipeline impacts, and easement offers.  
In addition, every resident can intervene now on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Docket No. CP 16-4-000 for this pipeline project.  
The object of filing with FERC as an intervenor, the Conservancy states, is “to preserve their right to bring a legal challenge should they wish to do so down the road or to show their concern and opposition for the pipeline project.”
The deadline to intervene in time is November 16th.  Comments may be submitted by email by going to www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/ecomment.asp.
The Delaware Riverkeeper Network is a non-profit organization established in 1988 to protect and restore the Delaware River, its associated watershed, tributaries and habitats. The group is based in Bristol, PA. Their web site is found at at www.delawareriverkeeper.org.
Kinder Morgan Inc. spokesman, Richard Wheatley, shared the following statement: “Kinder Morgan, Inc. and its subsidiaries are committed to public safety, protection of the environment and operation of our facilities in compliance with all applicable rules and regulations.  It is our goal to work openly and cooperatively with all stakeholders regarding environmental, health and safety issues.”

••• Getting information

An electronic copy of the complete public version of TGP’s application is available for inspection at the Wayne County Public Library in Honesdale and the Pike County Public Library in Milford. TGP’s application may also be viewed on FERC’s web site, www.ferc.gov.
FERC also has information on its web site about landowner’s rights concerning interstate gas facilities. TGP has mailed notices to affected landowners.
Questions about the Orion Project may be directed to Tennessee Gas Pipeline LLC at 800-781-4152.
Information is found online at http://www.kindermorgan.com/business/gas_pipelines/east/neenergydirect/ .