Routing gas transmission pipelines along the Pennsylvania Turnpike would help the state’s environment and balance sheet, said GOP Rep. Scott Petri, who has introduced legislation giving the turnpike commission authority to allow use of its right-of-way for commercial transmission pipelines and charge a fee for it.
“There’s no reason to destroy environmentally sensitive areas when you have the turnpike,” Petri told a meeting of the House Environmental Resources and Energy Committee. He has also sponsored legislation to levy a severance tax on gas production but said a transmission fee could cover turnpike costs and generate far more revenue than a severance tax would, according to published reports. The bill would require a pipeline operator to have a valid fee arrangement with the turnpike commission. The turnpike commission is studying whether pipelines, fiber optic cables and other utility infrastructure can run along its right-of-way.
“We understand parts of our 550-mile system may be suitable to carry parallel pipelines — but that hasn’t been fully determined just yet,” said agency spokesman Carl Defebo Jr. Interstates 80 and 79 could also be candidates for pipelines if federal approval was obtained, said Petri. State officials predict thousands of miles of new pipelines are needed to bring gas from the Marcellus Shale to markets along the Atlantic seaboard. A half-dozen transmission line expansions are planned throughout northeastern Pennsylvania.