With 2.5 million miles of natural gas pipelines operating in the U.S., it’s easy to forget how prevalent, safe and important pipelines are in our communities.
Pipelines have operated safely for decades under various circumstances and geologic conditions. This includes earthquake-prone areas such as California – home to more than 120,000 miles of natural gas pipeline – and the 40 percent of land east of the Mississippi River where karst terrain – visible in the form of caves and sinkholes – coexists with thousands of miles of natural gas pipeline.
In West Virginia, there are more than 11,000 miles of natural gas pipelines, including underground pipes that cross the Bluestone National Scenic River, the New River, the Monongahela River and other waterbodies. Natural gas and fuel liquids pipelines have safely crossed under and around populated areas and scenic recreational areas for decades, ensuring the uninterrupted access to energy needed to fuel modern conveniences.
In Virginia, there are more than 22,000 miles of natural gas pipelines. They operate in densely populated areas such as the city of Norfolk and in Fairfax County, in northern Virginia, and in suburban and rural areas across the commonwealth. The Spring Hollow Reservoir, a drinking water source for the Roanoke area, was built on top of a natural gas transmission pipeline decades ago. Camp Roanoke, a popular recreational area for paddling and canoeing, coexists with that same natural gas pipeline, which provides a reliable supply of fuel for home heating, cooking and commercial operations in Southwest Virginia.
Elsewhere across the country, the same scenario exists. A natural gas transmission pipeline runs along the property of Atlanta’s SunTrust Park, home of the Braves, and near the Battery Atlanta, a vibrant commercial and residential area. New York’s Central Park has a natural gas transmission line running through it. The Chicago suburbs boast natural gas transmission pipelines crisscrossing residential and commercial districts, meeting demand for an affordable, clean-burning fuel that is critical to helping families and businesses get through winter and go about their daily lives.
These systems are recognized as the safest and most efficient means for providing consumers with natural gas. They also eliminate the need for transport by road or rail, amplifying the clean-air benefits that this fuel source provides.
“Natural gas provides for nearly 25% of our country’s total energy consumption, and petroleum provides for nearly 40%,” according to the U.S. Pipeline & Hazardous Materials Safety Administration. “This requires the transportation of huge volumes of hazardous liquids and gas, and the most feasible, most reliable and safest way to do so is through pipelines.”
The Mountain Valley Pipeline project is an interstate transmission line designed to provide supplies of low-cost natural gas to domestic markets in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions of the United States, where it will help meet existing and future customer demand.