WB Express Pipeline to Cross West Virginia

by S. Tom Bond on April 13, 2015

STAR = Gas sources in WV, PA, OH

Another Pipeline Sneaks In – WB Express Pipeline of Columbia Gas Transmission

From S. Tom Bond, Resident Farmer, Lewis County, WV, April 10, 2014

At the April 9 meeting the Upshur County Commission was asked to support still another large bore pipeline. This one is called the WB Express Project, which is being pushed by Columbia Gas Transmission. Subsequent research has shown it would run across the entire state from about the point where Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia come together to a point near the South most extension of the Eastern panhandle, with zigs and zags.

I have expressed dismay with the unplanned explosive development by the fracking industry, which is an uncoordinated between companies rush to get a limited resource out of the ground, which has shown thoroughly rottin’ results. The only science is how to do it, not on how it will affect the community where it is done, nor the cheapest way between companies. Costs are pushed off on landowners, the local and state governments, and lease contracts are strained far beyond the intentions and perceptions of those who signed it, made a net of words for the single purpose of capturing a fortune for those who cast it.

The new pipeline bonanza seems to be repeating the mistakes of the first line fracking industry, no coordination between companies about transportation of gas, vast capital costs, and no clear idea of how much gas is in the ground to be eventually moved. I have characterized that rush as having the character of a gang of exuberant 13 year olds who weren’t raised properly, and this one seems to be more of the same. The first rush has driven many of the companies to danger of bankruptcy and gas prices below production cost. There is such excess of supply it will be some time before the backlog is worked through and prices can rise to reflect the cost of removal.  It seems the natural gas liquids are carrying the industry, and they will be gone long before the dry gas.

The new pipelines lead to two goals: export and electrical generation with natural gas. Let’s deal with export first. I read a decade after WWII that “the quality hematite iron ore the United States originally had now lays on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean,” that what was left (in considerable abundance), was taconite, a very hard (low grade) stuff. The resource now produces 52 million metric tons, eighth in the world, between South Africa at 67 and Canada at 40. China produces 1320 million metric tons of iron ore.

All of us on earth are similarly situated with many raw materials. The United States is behind Australia, Canada and Japan in tonnage of raw materials used per capita, according to this Bloomberg article, but the other countries export a lot, the first two raw materials, and Japan manufactured products.

We import much finished product, the raw materials for which not shown in this diagram. And the US has a military larger than all the rest put together, certainly no accident. The easy, high quality hydrocarbon energy of the US is gone. Is it wise to export the product of expensive extraction, last dregs of natural gas in the country?

The enthusiasm for using gas for electrical generation is unbounded, as you will find from this 2012 article in Forbes. It quotes a few paragraphs from the National Petroleum Council 2007 paper “Electric Generation Efficiency.” He quotes efficiencies with no recognition of how coal is used, nor the losses of methane from the production and transportation of natural gas. Theoretically, gas generation will produce 57% as much carbon dioxide as coal to generate the same amount of electricity if it is used for heat only. If it is run through a gas turbine and the heat is then used, the theoretical goes to 45% as much carbon dioxide.

However, production of natural gas and transportation results in considerable loss of methane, an even more powerful greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, so the difference in effect is not great. And, of course, no one cares about damage to land and water, or effects, on the people who live there, including sickness.

So how did the Upshur County Commission handle this potentially county transformative technology? It was strictly ho-hum stuff. Agreeing to cooperate with the FERC process took less than a minute. The Chairman read the item of business: “Correspondence from Columbia Gas Transmission, LLC providing explanation on the WB Xpress Project and inviting the Commission to participate in the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Pre- filing review process.”

And another moved to pass the item, then a vote and it was approved. Just like paying a bill or raising pay of an employee who had reached the statutory time in office for a raise. Nothing from the gas company and nothing from the audience was evident. Not even where it would go in the county!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

A P Mama April 13, 2015 at 4:59 pm

Not to mention the NINE compressor stations along the route.

Say goodbye to peace and quiet, clean air, and the tourism industry.

Who would want to come here and settle with all these disturbances?

We have already been losing people in most of these counties.


S. Thomas Bond April 19, 2015 at 5:02 pm

Yes, West Virginia has the highest rate of population loss of any state.


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