Many people may not know this, but our watershed constantly faces new and proposed natural gas pipeline projects. From the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline in western Pennsylvania to the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in West Virginia, activists and environmentalists fight an uphill battle to protect the Chesapeake watershed from potential damage these projects might cause. Earlier this year, the Delmarva Pipeline Company presented plans to build an almost 200 mile long natural gas pipeline that would run from Cecil County, Maryland to Accomac Virginia. While this pipeline has received minor attention so far, it is important that we understand potential risks that come along with transporting natural gas in the stretch of land between the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean – two priceless bodies of water.
The natural gas for the Delmarva Pipeline will be sourced from the Marcellus Shale, a gas producing rock formation in the north east of the United States. The proposed pipeline will carry the gas underground along a path that starts in the northern border of Maryland and Pennsylvania, travel straight through Maryland’s Eastern Shore, and eventually stop in the northern part of Virginia’s coastline. This stretch of land is a beautiful and historic part of early America, which many of the families who live on Maryland’s Eastern Shore have called home for hundreds of years. This pipeline, will cross through farms, rivers, and forests. Like all pipelines, it runs the risk of explosions, leaks, contaminated water, and of course damages to private property should an explosion or leak reach a home.
With any large scale project happening close to the water, we run the risk of sediments reaching the Chesapeake Bay (see this article from Chesapeake Bay Foundation for more on the general risks of pipelines). Leaks are also a real issue with pipelines, and an underground pipeline like this could have a huge effect on ground water should a leak occur – not to mention any explosive situations that could rattle the ground. For more specific threats to the residents around this proposed pipeline, check out the website for No Eastern Shore Pipeline. Stay informed on the progress of the Delmarva Pipeline and reach out to your local environmental groups to see what you can do – we all have a responsibility to fight for the protection of clean, healthy water. You can impact the future of our Bay watershed for the better. All it takes, is action.
Here are a few more resources about the Delmarva Pipeline:
Mary Katherine Sullivan is an intern with Choose Clean Water.