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Hundreds of thousands of acres above the Marcellus Shale have been leased with the intent of drilling wells for natural gas. However, most of the leased properties are not adjacent to a natural gas pipeline. The total natural gas pipeline capacity currently available is a tiny fraction of what will be needed. 

Several new pipelines must be built to transport millions of cubic feet of natural gas per day to major markets. In addition, thousands of miles of natural gas gathering systems must be built to connect individual wells to the major pipelines. And pipelines mean compressor stations, which have been implicated in health problems to nearby residents (see under NOISE, LIGHTS and FUMES)

Many property owners will be asked to sign right-of-way agreements that will allow natural gas pipelines and gathering systems to be built across their land. If the property owner is not associated with the gas production there could be compensation for granting the right-of-way. Payments could be as low as a few dollars per linear foot in rural areas to over $100 per foot in urban areas.

Though pipeline companies are private, federal law gives them the right to take property for pipelines through eminent domain.

Then as pipelines age, they become another problem. The tragic explosion of a gas pipeline in a San Francisco suburb has shed light on a problem usually kept underground. Utilities have been under pressure for years to better inspect and replace aging gas pipes that now are at risk of leaking or erupting. But the effort has fallen short. Critics say the regulatory system is ripe for problems because the government largely leaves it up to the companies to do inspections, and utilities are reluctant to spend the money necessary to properly fix and replace decrepit pipelines.



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