Viable alternatives to oil have been hard to come by. Coal has a pretty dirty past and more trendy solutions like wind and solar are still too expensive to install without government subsidies or tax breaks (and they do not work well everywhere). But, the alternatives are taking off and no alternative is rising as quickly as natural gas. Modern hydraulic fracturing (or fracking) began in June 1998, just north of Fort Worth in Texas, and has done nothing but spread to every region of the United States from California to New York. To expand and improve the current infrastructure for natural gas PennEast Pipeline Co. LLC has announced that it will run a natural gas pipeline from Eastern Pennsylvania to Western New Jersey.
The pipeline will cost around $1 billion and will extend a few dozen miles effectively connecting Pennsylvania and New Jersey. And while that might seem like a hefty investment its’ benefits will likely outweigh that initial cost. According to Patricia Kornick, a spokeswoman for PennEast, the pipeline will allow the company to provide lower and more stable gas prices to customers in New Jersey. That is good news for New Jersey residents who have seen their natural gas prices climb to $100 per dekatherm (one dekatherm is the equivalent of 1,000 cubic feet of natural gas which meets the energy needs of an average home for a period of four days).
$100 every four days is far too expensive but the pipeline will reduce that cost which should be of some comfort to residents of Western New Jersey. But lower costs are not all they are worried about. Like any fracking project there are environmental concerns attached to the pipeline project. Sitting far below the pipeline lies the Marcellus Shale, a rock formation that has sealed away an enormous amount of natural gas which companies like PennEast have sought to utilize through fracking (it can be a fairly complicated process so if you want to learn more about it we recommend that you watch this video).
If done right, it can be a fairly safe way to get natural gas but if companies put profits ahead of safety accidents can happen with some catastrophic consequences (like poisoning the water supply). PennEast has assured residents that they will do everything in their power to protect the environment by using the safest mode of transporting natural gas and estimate that the project will be a major economic asset for the region by creating approximately 2,000 jobs. Those jobs could make the project an appealing source of income for contractors and an asset for the region if done correctly.