Frequently Asked Questions
Additional Project Information
Are natural gas pipelines safe? What does Kinder Morgan do to monitor and maintain its pipelines?
The safety of the nation’s natural gas pipeline network is regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), which administers the Natural Gas Pipeline Safety Act of 1968 and subsequent amendments to this statute in the Pipeline Safety, Regulatory Certainty and Job Creation Act of 2011. PHMSA is responsible for implementing pipeline safety laws and regulations, which establish requirements to ensure that pipelines are constructed and operated safely. Here is a sampling of how the design and implementation of the NED Project will follow federal PHMSA regulations:
- Design – Tennessee pipeline design includes safety features that increase with population density and land usage along the pipeline. This includes: (i) extra wall thickness in more populated areas, (ii) extra wall thickness at road crossings, (iii) additional depth of cover in agricultural areas under active cultivation, (iv) corrosion protective coatings, and (v) cathodic protection facilities to protect against corrosion.
- Testing – Tennessee further X-rays 100 percent of all pipeline welds and pressure tests the completed pipeline with water at a pressure much higher than it will operate to ensure that it is properly built prior to being placed in service. It also inspects the pipelines internally before placing them in service to help ensure that any anomalies are identified and repaired prior to the line going into service.
- Cathodic Protection – Tennessee applies electrical current, known as cathodic protection, to the pipeline to prevent external corrosion from occurring and regularly checks the pipeline to ensure the protection is consistently applied. By applying the electrical current, the pipe is protected from pipe steel being removed by corrosion.
- Encroachment – One of the most common causes of pipeline incidents is damage by a third party. We obtain an approximately 50-foot wide permanent right-of-way to distance third party construction activities from accidentally damaging our pipeline. This gives us room to safely operate and maintain the pipeline.
- Tennessee actively participates in all applicable One Call programs to help prevent third-party damage. Tennessee will meet landowners and contractors to discuss excavation and marks all pipelines prior to excavation when provided with notification by state One Call programs. Depending on the location of the digging, Tennessee also will have a company employee on site to observe digging operations around its pipelines.
- Monitoring – Tennessee closely monitors pipeline operations, including line pressure and surveillance of the pipeline to detect leaks and protect against third-party damage.
- Inspection – Tennessee uses state of the art in-line inspection tools, known as smart pigs, to periodically internally inspect the pipeline in accordance with PHMSA requirements for potential damage, erosion or corrosion. Any damage or corrosion detected through this process is repaired or replaced.
- Shut Off Valves- Shut off valves installed on the new pipeline facilities will include:
- Valves that will automatically close when a specified change in pipeline conditions occur.
- Valves that are monitored 24 hours per day and can be closed remotely from our gas control center.
Will Kinder Morgan help localities train and equip their emergency responders for pipeline related incidents?
Tennessee conducts annual meetings with first responders, local officials and contractors in all counties, cities and towns where it operates, and will continue this process in any locality where a pipeline is installed as part of the NED Project. Tennessee’s local employees who operate the pipeline attend these meetings to answer questions and provide additional information related to emergency response, safety and local contact information. These employees serve on the Local Emergency Planning Committee and regularly attend meetings within the counties where they live. As the NED Project is constructed, placed in service and operated as part of the Tennessee Gas Pipeline system, Tennessee will continue all of these activities in counties where is its facilities are located, and will begin those activities in counties where new facilities are added.
The meetings held in communities along the Tennessee system provide first responders with information about responding to a natural gas incident. In addition, we conduct mock emergency drills with local responders and hold open houses at our facilities to better familiarize first responders with Tennessee’s equipment and facilities. Tennessee’s personnel have access to pipeline emergency training materials and, if requested, can provide workshops or training for first responders.
Will the pipeline traverse wetlands, public lands, areas with conservation easements or other environmentally sensitive lands?
As part of the evaluation of the routing/location of the NED Project, Tennessee has considered and will continue to consider a number of factors, including impacts on the environment and existing land uses. Tennessee’s design criteria for new facilities includes avoiding and minimizing impacts to critical and sensitive habitats and lands, such as wetlands, threatened and endangered species, culturally sensitive areas and public lands, to the extent practicable and feasible. To evaluate a proposed route, Tennessee will conduct civil, cultural and environmental surveys to gather information that will allow it to refine the pipeline design and, in consultation with regulatory agencies, determine the most appropriate route to avoid and minimize impacts on critical habitats and lands. If Tennessee is unable to avoid critical and sensitive habitats and lands, it will determine the most appropriate crossing method to minimize and mitigate impacts as much as possible.
Does Tennessee use herbicides on its right-of-way?
After constructing the pipeline, Tennessee will restore the right–of-way as required by, and in accordance with, the conditions imposed by FERC in its certificate of public convenience and necessity. For the majority of its system, Tennessee maintains its easements by mechanical means (e.g. tractor with mower or brush hog). In some instances, as approved by landowners and regulatory agencies, herbicides may be applied in certain locations (typically at compressor stations or above-ground sites such as valves or pig launchers, or receivers).
Will the pipeline contribute to new greenhouse gas emissions or other emissions?
The facilities will comply will all applicable requirements of the federal Clean Air Act, and state and local agency rules. Project installation and operations are subject to performance standards for oil and natural gas sources which may include best available control technology, compliance with applicable state and federal air rules, air permit conditions, and monitoring and testing of emissions. The pipeline and associated compressor facilities may result in certain predictable air emissions during routine operations.
What effects will construction have on wildlife or the local environment?
Pipeline construction in general results in temporary impacts to wildlife and the environment. Construction planning and permitting includes consideration of the effects on wildlife and the environment. During construction, Tennessee would comply with all requirements imposed by FERC and other federal and state agencies, as well as its own industry-standard procedures, to avoid and minimize the effects of construction on the environment. Wildlife protection and environmental measures are further addressed during post-construction site restoration. FERC will monitor and inspect Tennessee’s right-of-way restoration activities to ensure compliance with all applicable conditions and requirements.
Do the compressor stations “exhaust” or “release” methane gas during operations?
Compressor stations do not “exhaust” or “release” methane gas under normal operations. A release is defined as an unintended release. Piping systems are specifically designed and tested to prevent methane gas release. Very small quantities of gas are vented when gas is used as a power source for valve operators during normal compressor station operations. In other special operating circumstances, gas is vented to depressurize pipes in the compressor station to allow maintenance or under emergency conditions. Venting is defined as a controlled planned venting of gas. When gas is vented, it is done under controlled conditions specifically designed to allow depressurization to be done safely.
Will the electricity generated with the natural gas from this pipeline increase carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions compared to the current coal power stations?
As existing coal-fired power plants are retired, some power generators are looking at converting those plants to run on natural gas. Compared to the average air emissions from coal-fired power plants, natural gas power generators produce half as much carbon dioxide, less than a third as much nitrogen oxides and 1 percent as much sulfur oxide, according to the EPA. Currently, New England relies on natural gas fired power generation for 52 percent of its electricity and this number is expected to grow in the upcoming years.
How will the pipeline impact the value of my property?
The pipeline and associated easement should not impact the value of your property. Multiple studies across the country have found minimal to no correlation between a property’s sales price and its vicinity to a gas transmission pipeline. Please see the following studies for supporting information on the correlation between property values and the presence of pipelines:
- Diskin, Barry A., PH.D., Jack P. Friedman, PH.D, Spero C. Peppas, PH.D, and Stephanie R. Peppas. "The Effect of Natural Gas Pipelines on Residential Values." Right of Way (2011)
- Fruits, E., “Natural Gas Pipelines and Residential Property Values: Evidence from Clackamas and Washington Counties.” (2008).
- The INGAA Foundation, Inc., “Natural Gas Pipeline Impact Study.” (2001)
- Kinnard, Williams N., Jr., Sue Ann Dickey, and Mary Beth Geckler. "Natural Gas Pipeline Impact on Residential Property Values: An Empirical Study of Two Market Areas." Right of Way (1994)
- Wilde, Louis, Christopher Loos, and Jack Williamson. "Pipelines and Property Values: An Eclectic Review of the Literature." Journal of Real Estate Literature 20.2 (2012)
What are the benefits to local communities along the route?
During construction, this project will generate millions of dollars for state and local economies through spending by workers on living expenses, entertainment and meals. Some temporary jobs will be created and demand for local services such as fuel and mechanical work will increase. Towns and counties will also see a significant increase in annual property tax revenues once the project is placed into service.
In addition, several studies have concluded that bringing additional gas supplies to the region will lower the price of natural gas in the Northeast and benefit consumers with lower energy costs.
What is the operational life of the pipeline? What happens when it’s no longer in use?
The serviceable life of the pipeline is indefinite because of the materials used and the procedures in place to protect the installed pipeline, including corrosion protective coating, cathodic protection and periodic inspections.
Abandonment of unused or retired pipelines is under the jurisdiction of the FERC. The FERC would review any request by Tennessee to abandon the pipeline and issue an approval before the pipeline could be removed from service and either removed from the ground or abandoned in place (depending on location and environmental impacts). If a pipeline is abandoned in place, it will be disconnected from all sources and supplies of gas, purged of gas and the ends sealed, and, in certain cases, the pipeline may be filled with water or inert gas such as nitrogen.
What permits does Tennessee have to obtain in order to construct the Project?
Prior to constructing and operating the NED Project, Tennessee is required to apply to the FERC for a certificate of public convenience and necessity under the Natural Gas Act (Certificate Application) As part of the Certificate Application process, FERC has established a collaborative pre-filing process under which FERC staff cooperate to establish the scope of the environmental review and the environmental reports that Tennessee will file with its Certificate Application and that will be the basis for FERC’s Environmental Impact Statement. Tennessee anticipates that it will request to initiate the FERC pre-filing process starting in September 2014. The process will include Tennessee conducting open houses for interested parties, including affected landowners, to learn more about the project and FERC staff conducting scoping meetings to gather comments on the proposed project from interested parties. Tennessee anticipates that it will obtain its FERC Certificate Application for the NED Project in September 2015.
In deciding whether to issue a certificate for the NED Project, FERC will balance the public benefits of the project against the potential adverse consequences.
In addition, to the FERC certificate, Tennessee must also apply for, and obtain, other applicable federal and state permits and authorizations for specific aspects of the project, such as air emissions, erosion and sedimentation control, wetlands crossings, etc. The process and timing of other applicable federal and state permits will occur concurrently with the Certificate Application process.
Why can’t you just run the pipe along existing highway corridors?
Routing pipeline facilities in or along existing highway or road corridors presents several challenges. First and foremost is safety. Highway corridors generally already have existing utility infrastructure located in or around their corridors. By locating a pipeline in a separate corridor, there is much less likelihood that damage will occur to the existing infrastructure during construction, or that the new pipeline will be damaged by third party construction or maintenance activities by other utilities or road crews. Separate corridors are also generally less populated as compared to road corridors. In the planning stage, Tennessee reviews routing options, including ones that will share corridors with other similar uses such as existing pipelines or power lines.
Tennessee already has a pipeline in New York and Massachusetts. Why can’t Tennessee build the NED Project in that corridor?
Tennessee extensively evaluated the option of installing the NED Project adjacent to its existing right-of-way. Since it was constructed in the 1950s, the area around Tennessee’s existing pipeline in Massachusetts has become extremely congested. Constructing a new pipeline in this corridor would be extremely challenging and impact significantly more landowners than constructing along the new corridor across the northern tier of Massachusetts.
What size right-of-way is required to build the pipeline?
In new areas, the new permanent easement, or right-of-way, would likely be 50 feet wide, generally 25 feet on either side of the pipeline. In addition to a permanent easement, an additional 50- 75 feet of temporary workspace would be needed for use during construction. Some site specific areas, like road crossings, will require additional temporary workspace to allow for specialized construction techniques and to allow the workers to work safely.
The width of the rights-of-way may differ depending on the location and topography of the land. This will be discussed with each individual landowner during easement discussions.
Will Tennessee seek Article 97 legislative approval in Massachusetts? Tennessee anticipates that it will seek Article 97 authorization from the Massachusetts legislature to obtain easement rights on lands that promote conservation purposes and that are owned by the Commonwealth or by a town or city.