Earlier this year, the natural gas industry declared in an exuberant report that new pipelines will “uncork” the production bottleneck and create a second boom in Utica and Marcellus Shale development.
This vision is currently on stark display in Pennsylvania and Ohio. On a recent trip for Earthworks’ Community Empowerment Project, a colleague and I were dismayed to see pipeline cuts and compressor station scarring the landscape—including in areas absent of such activity several months ago.
On September 26th 2016, Earthworks landed in Bismarck, North Dakota. My colleague Hilary Lewis and I travelled there from our post in Washington, DC to report on the growing, Native American-led opposition to Energy Transfer Partner’s latest project known as the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). We didn’t have a specific address to navigate to, or even cell service to navigate with, but we knew to follow the highway south towards the town of Cannon Ball. Aside from a security checkpoint outside of the capitol city, staffed by some helpful National Guard officers, the journey was as desolate as it was beautiful.
Whenever I see a spiderweb in the woods, I’m awestruck by the careful, diligent work it took and the ability of a small insect to adjust its design to the surrounding trees or bushes. Unfortunately, the opposite is true when it comes to the expanding web of gas pipelines and compressor stations being planned nationwide, which would take years to build, affect large areas, and have impacts that last for decades.
No wonder communities in the path of development refuse to be ensnared.