Newly proposed natural gas pipeline projects are on the rise in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed and with new construction moving forward, this development has the potential to roll back years of progress toward sediment reduction goals. While many Bay restoration stakeholders view safeguarding the Bay and its tributaries solely through the lens of TMDL goals, it’s imperative to think about mitigating environmental threats holistically. Chesapeake Commons partnered with Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Fractracker Alliance, and the Chesapeake Legal Alliance to map the impacts of the proposed Atlantic Sunrise Project’s Central Penn North & South line. Open for public comment, Williams’ Central Penn Line North and Central Penn Line South would stretch 183 miles from Susquehanna County to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Construction of the new pipeline will require a 125-foot right of way (ROW).
Our analytical team found that this proposed pipeline would cross 52 areas designated by the Chesapeake Bay Program as “protected lands.” Permanently protect lands are defined as areas permanently protected from development for their cultural, historical, ecological or agricultural value. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Chesapeake Bay Program is tasked with overseeing the cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay by 2025. Part of its strategy to achieve this goal is to permanently protect from development land that is identified as a high-conservation priority at the federal, state or local level. These lands protect water quality, sustain fish and wildlife, maintain working farms and forests, preserve our history, and provide opportunities for outdoor recreation. Of particular concern are the multiple agricultural easements the pipeline will cross in Lancaster County. These easements often represent years of work toward acquisition and permanent protection. The many smaller parcels intersected by the lower third of the proposed pipeline were deliberately set aside by landowners and conservationists with the intention that they remain permanently protected and now years of farmer lea implementation of best management practices are at risk of being negatively affected by natural gas infrastructure expansion.