OldArchive / The Way I See It

1950’s Gas Pipeline Construction Revisited


Odds are not many people know that a gas transmission pipeline has traversed the northern tier counties for over a half century. At least they didn’t know about it until the recent gas boom made the pipeline a topic of discussion.

I was a youngster when the first pipeline was built in the 1950’s. It was a major construction project, the likes of which had never been seen here before. But compared to all the current gas boom activity, the 1950’s project was minuscule.

The project brought an influx of construction workers to the area, but again compared to the recent population increase, it was small and for the most part the workers were here for only a year or two, if memory serves me correctly.

The Tennessee Gas Pipeline, which passes through our region, is one of the El Paso Corporation’s five interstate gas pipelines. It’s part of a network that’s 13,700 miles long and runs from the shoreline of Texas and Louisiana up through Appalachia, across northern Pennsylvania and southern New York, into the New York metro area, and on to eastern Massachusetts. (It’s often referred to as the TVA pipeline, but that’s incorrect. TVA stands for the Tennessee Valley Authority, which built a system of hydroelectric dams in the 1930’s). The Tennessee Gas Pipeline is currently undergoing a $750 million expansion called the 300 Line to bring Marcellus shale gas to market.

The 300 Line will expand the Tennessee Gas Pipeline by adding a second, larger-diameter pipeline mostly using the same right-of-way as that of the original Tennessee pipeline.

The project consists of laying 128 miles of new 30" pipeline to replace the existing 24" branch beginning in Potter County, in northcentral Pennsylvania leading on through Tioga, Bradford, Susquehanna, Wayne and Pike Counties, and across the New Jersey counties of Sussex and Passaic. It cuts right across the region of Pennsylvania that is expected to be most prolific for Marcellus shale production. The first phase of the expansion is planned to be up and running by November 2011.

Of course in the 1950’s nobody complained about a project like this taking place. That’s hardly the case today.

Not long ago I saw a TV report featuring a small group of people complaining that a proposed gas pipeline in Sullivan County would ruin tourism. That’s hardly a valid complaint and little more than another example of the “not in my backyard” mentality that’s flourishing since the start of gas exploration in the northern tier.

As I said previously, the 1950’s pipeline has had such an impact on its surroundings that few people know it’s there.

Here in the Wyalusing area the pipeline crosses under the Susquehanna at Homets Ferry and proceeds up Lime Hill not far from my house. In the winter we sled and ski down the pipeline right-of-way. The river crossing at Homets Ferry produced a new area of white water, but even that has diminished over the years. Today, unless you know it’s there, the pipeline crossing is barely noticeable.

Bottom line is the half-century old pipeline passing through our area has had no negative impact on the region whatsoever. It’s underground and out of sight. It hasn’t hurt tourism and it hasn’t hurt the environment.

In today’s world you can count on opposition of some sort by this or that group of self-declared experts to pretty much anything that’s proposed. If you don’t believe that, consider what the reaction might be to a railroad being constructed through our region if it didn’t already exist. Think it would happen?

Or how about a major expansion of Route 6 (to improve access for tourists)? What sort of opposition would that draw?

Here’s something to consider: Suppose I were to propose bringing a job-creating business to Wyalusing that would make the community the center of local commerce. My plant would be located in the flood plain near Wyalusing and, I almost forgot, I would need to change the course of the Wyalusing Creek a bit and build a small dam. That’s just what happened in 1820 when Welles Mill was constructed. Think that could happen today? The irony, of course, is that in a few more weeks there will be little sign that the mill ever existed, except if you trek through the nearby woods and find what’s left of the mill pond dam.

Probably by now you’ve figured out that I’m tired of the whining from people who seem to be against change of any sort. Yes, there are serious concerns with natural gas drilling. We’ve seen documented cases of water pollution at home wells, for example. And I don’t mind telling you that I don’t like the increased traffic, especially the speeding trucks.

But seeing people on TV complaining that a pipeline could ruin tourism in Sullivan County is an example of how whacky things have become.

A friend sums it all up like this: “Everyone wants the lights to come on when they flip the switch,” he told me recently, “but nobody wants to look out their kitchen window and see the power plant.”




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