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We are well into the middle of winter here in Pennsylvania. The air is bitter, and we need heat to survive. Access to affordable energy is essential for us. However, at what cost to the environment?

The Atlantic Sunrise pipeline began delivering natural gas produced by the Marcellus Shale to areas throughout the East Coast in October, allowing for more people to have access to affordable natural gas energy. However, the pipeline has also caused significant controversy, as it runs through Pennsylvanians’ land and has environmental implications.

Here at Hoegen & Associates, P.C. in Wilkes-Barre, PA, we have offered our legal services for those affected by the Marcellus Shale project, and we understand both the pros and cons that are associated with this major infrastructure project.

Boosting the Economy

One of the major benefits of the pipeline is the economic boom it has led to throughout Pennsylvania. It has created jobs—according to LancasterOnline, “nearly 700 workers toiled on the pipeline in Lancaster County,” many from outside the county or from other states. These workers utilized “dozens of local businesses” during the course of their work. The project brought an estimated $75.5 million to the Lancaster County economy.

Affordable Energy & Energy Independence

The pipeline can now easily and affordably deliver natural gas across the East Coast, including throughout Pennsylvania. Power Engineering reports, “Natural gas provides fuel for more than one-third of U.S. electric power generation and heats more half of the nation’s homes, according to federal and company reports.” Utilizing this locally derived energy source can help reduce our dependence on foreign countries for fossil fuels, providing further economic benefits.

Helpful or Harmful to the Environment?

Although natural gas burns cleaner than other fossil fuels such as oil, it still emits harmful pollutants. It’s also not a renewable resource—although the country has abundant natural gas (according to Williams, the company in charge of the Atlantic Sunrise project, experts believe that there is a 100-year supply of natural gas available in the United States), the supply will eventually run out, unlike other energy sources such as solar, hydro, and wind.

In addition, the development of the pipeline caused significant disruption to Pennsylvanian land, and, as LancasterOnline reports, many are concerned about risks of explosions and leaks, as well as cutting down of forests in the area.

Giving Up Land

Property owners in Pennsylvania were affected by development of the pipeline, which runs through 10 counties in the state. Farmland, roads, and streams were all disrupted. Understandably, some landowners didn’t want to give up their land, and some were forced to due to eminent domain. In fact, a group of nuns, whose outdoor chapel was to be affected by pipeline construction, “sued the pipeline builder under the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act,” according to LancasterOnline. The case was dismissed, but the disgruntlement remains.

The Atlantic Sunrise project has many economic, environmental, and legal implications, and it is highly controversial due to its significant benefits and drawbacks. Have you been affected by the project? Do you have questions? Contact Hoegen & Associates today at 570-820-3332 and we will be happy to provide you with information.