Petition to STOP the Penn State Pipeline
Penn State and Columbia Gas plan to construct a major gas pipeline through the State College Borough Highlands neighborhood along South Burrowes St., Fraser St., Prospect Ave., University Ave., and Bellaire Ave. The 400 psi flow in this 12 inch pipeline compares in magnitude to the flow of gas at accident sites in Bellingham Washington (6/11/99), San Bruno CA, 9/9/10, Southern Ohio (11/16/11) and others. No federal agency regulates the safety of these pipelines. Residents are left to trust the good intentions and the management of Columbia Gas.
Penn State has the options of either taking on the risk of the pipeline by building it on their own land or selecting a sustainable energy source for their needs. Instead, they are attempting to transfer the risk of the pipeline to borough residents. Routing a gas pipeline through campus property is the shortest and most direct path. Instead, Penn State and Columbia Gas are attempting to exploit public rights of way for their private benefit. Borough residents will find their homes dangerously within the hazard area of potential explosions and gas leak emergencies.
We are disappointed and affronted by the lack of communication and response from Penn State, Columbia Gas, and the State College Borough City Council. These parties did not ensure that the community had adequate information and input into this decision. The two informational meetings for residents, in October 2012 and March 2013, were announced to relatively few residents and did not provide sufficient time for residents to reorganize their work and family schedules to attend. Moreover, the meeting announcements failed to convey the magnitude of the pipeline project and risks that the borough will bear. Without seeking genuine input from affected residents, Penn State and Columbia Gas have moved forward with their plans while Borough Council members do nothing.
The State College Borough Council is failing to uphold the Community Bill of Rights, voted in by a 72% majority of residents, by sitting idly while pipeline construction plans move forward. Columbia Gas has some rights to lay pipe under public rights of way, but these rights are subject to "reasonable" restrictions imposed by municipalities. Our community charter bans unsustainable infrastructure like the Penn State Pipeline on the basis that it violates our right to clean air, clean water, a sustainable future, and threatens local health, safety, and welfare. The Bill further establishes local, democratic decision-making on issues of energy infrastructure.
The Penn State Pipeline is a public danger that has no benefit to us. It violates our Community Charter. We ask that the State College Borough Council stand up for their constituents by imposing restrictions on corporate access to our public right-of-ways.