HUGHESVILLE - Landowners facing the prospect of natural gas pipelines on their properties were advised to know some of their legal rights.
About two dozen people who attended the Penn State Extension Office's workshop at the Hughesville Volunteer Fire Hall Tuesday night got an idea of what they might face regarding right-of-way agreements, eminent domain and other related issues with pipelines.
John Shoemaker, an attorney with Greevy & Associates, said a property owner has a say in where the pipeline can go on the land.
Matthew Henderson, shale gas and asset manager with the Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research, Penn State Cooperative Extension, addresses the audience during Tuesday night’s workshop on natural gas pipelines and right-of-way agreements at the Hughesville Volunteer Fire Hall.
Beyond that, a landowner can negotiate to obtain fair market value on property where gas lines are located.
A landowner, he said, also can be compensated for any damages.
Dave Messersmith, of the Penn State Extension Office, said natural gas production is expected to double in the state over the next five years.
"Pennsylvania is now a net exporter (of natural gas)," he said. "We produce more natural gas than we use."
The 120-mile interstate pipeline, he said, will extend from Lycoming County and run south to Chester County.
Construction of the pipeline is expected to begin in 2014 before going into service the following year.
Messersmith said incidents involving pipelines in the way of leaks or explosions have increased during the past 10 years.
"There are safety concerns," he said.
Aging infrastructure coupled with increasing populations often are to blame.
Some of the more recent accidents have occurred in Philadelphia, Allentown and San Bruno, Calif.
Pipeline construction, he said, can encroach on forest lands, create openings for invasive species and hurt some native wildlife.
State Rep. Garth Everett, R-Muncy, said the natural gas impact fee signed into law by the governor earlier this year brings 60 percent of the revenues from gas producing wells to communities and counties where the drilling is done.
Three Lycoming County municipalities, he added, stand to receive $500,000.
Other communities where no drilling occurs are not not reaping great benefits from the impact fee, but still feel impact from the gas industry, Everett said.
For example, intersections such as Route 405 and Main Street in Muncy and Routes 220 and 405 in Wolf Township are seeing heavier traffic as the result of gas-related operations.
In the meantime, he said the state Legislature successfully has put through laws to mitigate some of the effects of gas production, including more severe penalties for drilling violations and increased setbacks from wells to dwellings.