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Proposed Gas Pipeline Sparks Heated Response at State College Borough Council Meeting

by on April 01, 2013 8:58 PM

Penn State University’s coal-burning West Power Plant is due for an upgrade—an upgrade that would mean digging up some State College streets and installing a high-pressure natural gas pipeline. It's clear from tonight's borough council meeting that some State College residents are in an uproar. “I think there has been a total lack of transparency,” said State College resident Janet Engeman.

Hot off the heels of a gas line leak that shut down part of Park Avenue over the weekend, residents want to know why the line will be laid under borough streets instead of the University’s campus. According to Mark Kempric, President of Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, placing the line on campus was never seriously considered. “We didn’t even do a cost estimate of putting a pipeline on campus after seeing the difficulties. We simply determined that they were not viable routes.”

Residents and council members alike are frustrated by the fact that, under public utility code, the borough council has no ability to block the placement of the pipe. Council has to make a decision based on whether or not construction standards are met.

Council member Peter Morris summed up the frustration by saying, “Am I to understand that we can’t stop construction on a street if it poses dire danger to its residents? That’s ridiculous.”

One local resident addressed the council saying, "We are being told that the pipeline would be built under the safest restrictions. I'm sure the residents of Fukushima were told the same," referring to the nuclear plant accident in Japan. will have expanded coverage on this controversy Tuesday.

Mitchell Wilston is a reporter and photographer for Onward State. He has also worked as a freelance journalist for
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