The Effects of a Natural Gas Pipeline

*Note: This research is part of a larger project that I have recently presented at an Undergraduate Research Symposium with a fellow blogger. The link to his blog is HERE.

Hello Adventurers!

Have you ever contemplated where all the energy sources that you use in your everyday life come from? The gas that fuels your car, the power that lights your home and work or the fuel that heats your home. The age-old question with using fossil fuels to create heat and energy is usually, is this the only way? Is one form of energy better, cleaner, cheaper or can we use renewable energy? Recently the Atlantic Coast Pipeline (ACP) has started to expand. This pipeline delivers natural gas from shale deposits in West Virginia. Recently the ACP has partnered with Dominion Energy to bring the pipeline south through Virginia and North Carolina. The local companies that are rallying to bring this in for their customers are Duke Energy, Piedmont Natural Gas, and Southern Company Gas with the hype that the ACP will bring a cleaner cheaper source of fuel for customers to heat their homes. But what destruction will this bring to certain areas specifically Robeson County, North Carolina?

Image result for atlantic coast pipeline overview map

So as with any story, let’s start with the basics, shall we? The picture above shows where the ACP starts and the proposed route through Virginia and North Carolina. The 42-inch pipeline will be buried 3-5 feet underground and stretch 600 miles across the 3 states. The pipeline will end in my home state of North Carolina and the possible devastation that could occur will hurt the natural environment of many rivers and stream and cause years worth of harm.

Image result for acp proposed route

The pipeline will go through 8 counties in North Carolina with 200 miles of pipeline. The pipeline will consequently end, with 30 miles of pipeline, in Robeson County.

I created this image using ArcGIS.

As you can see the map above shows the route that the pipeline will take through Robeson County. One of the concerns is that if a leak happens that water quality could possibly be destroyed. The counties main concern is what will happen to the Lumber River, the counties prominent river. The Lumber River is very important to Robeson County whether, for Lumbee tribe connections, environmental concerns or even for a natural draw for tourist, canoers, and kayakers, especially since the Lumber River is part of the National Wild and Scenic River system. However, the pipeline does not cross that Lumber River it does cross watersheds that will eventually lead into the Lumber River downstream.

Now there wouldn’t be any issues with a natural gas pipeline if it was safe, however, there have been accidents involving natural gas pipelines for years. For example, between 2008 and 2012, there were 370 significant safety incidents. Caused by:

  • corrosion
  • equipment failure
  • flooding

These incidents led to 10 fatalities, 85 injuries, and 311 significant safety incidents at natural gas distribution pipelines. With this data, it helps us understand that incidents are far more likely than natural gas companies lead us to believe. The leak rate is somewhere between 2-9% and if greater than 2%, then natural gas is more detrimental to the environment than coal (CO2). Coal is a very prominent heat source for winter but many are trying to get away from coal because of the environmental effect. But when comparing coal to natural gas which is methane (CH4) it is also is a greenhouse gas (GHG), and CH4 takes longer to break down than CO2.

I created this image using ArcGIS.

With this map, created from geospatial data using ArcGIS, it shows the watersheds that the proposed pipeline will cross through Robeson County. If a leak occurs the potential of contamination in the water is very high. Possible contamination of water downstream from the pipeline in Robeson County:

  • 9 Immediate Watersheds
  • 10 Secondary Watersheds
  • 19 Public Water Supply

Two major concerns with the pipeline crossing watersheds are that the pipeline crosses Raft Swamp which meets the Lumber River and Big Marsh Swamp and Tenmile Swamp that leads to Big Swamp Canal eventually moves into the Lumber River.

Other major negative effects of the pipeline are the damage to the local environment from the construction and operation of the pipeline. There is a risk of contamination or leaks and the effect on water quality if pipeline accidents occur. All in all these following things will occur:

  • Disruption and/or the loss of 450 acres of wetlands​
  • Pollution of 300 rivers and stream, including tributaries to the Lumber River​
  • Pollute groundwater and wells​ along with shallow aquifers
  • Long term sedimentation and erosion issues​
  • Possibility of explosions​
  • Greenhouse Gas effect

Although all of these problems can and will happen when the pipeline is constructed there is another major issue with the pipeline coming through Robeson County. Piedmont Natural Gas company is planning to build a liquefied natural gas (LNG) facility in Robeson County between Maxton and Red Springs. The facility will be a 1 billion-cubic-foot LNG that can serve about 100,000 homes during the winter and on very cold days. The facility is used to store the excess gas during the summer and will hold the extra that will be needed in the winter when demand is high.

With this extra LNG facility, it raises the questions of, how will they transfer the gas, by truck or will more pipeline be run through the county? Will this facility be safe? What is the danger level of liquified gas? The most important question is why does THIS county need this facility?

This is just the overlying cost of the pipeline being built. I know I have not touched on all the issues or problems that can come from the pipeline or how far the issues will reach instead of just through one county. But this is the beginning of a larger issue that if the pipeline is built the local population will have to deal with when construction starts.

Thank you for reading and remember to be an Adventurer and to get up and go near, go far, go from sea to shining sea, just get up and go discover what YOU can offer America!

-Safe travels from a Carolina Girl

 

References:

  1. Decker, Tia, et al. Effects of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on the Lumbee Tribe in Robeson County, NC. 2017, pp. 1–29, Effects of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline on the Lumbee Tribe in Robeson County, NC.​
  2. Groeger, Lena V. “Pipelines Explained: How Safe Are America’s 2.5 Million Miles of Pipelines?” ProPublica.org, ProPublica, 2012, www.propublica.org/article/pipelines-explained-how-safe-are-americas-2.5-million-miles-of-pipelines​​
  3. Hunter, T.C. “ACP Gets Go-Ahead in NC.” Robesonian, 26 July 2018, www.robesonian.com/top-stories/113600/acp-gets-go-ahead-in-nc​​
  4. Karen Edelstein. Atlantic Coast Pipeline. ArcGIS Online, 2015​​
  5. Murawski, John, and John Murawski. “Atlantic Coast Pipeline Construction Halts as Court Reviews 4 Endangered Species.” Newsobserver, News & Observer, 10 Dec. 2018, www.newsobserver.com/news/business/article222856155.html​​
  6. NC DEQ, Division of Water Resources, Public Water Supply Section. Public Water Supply Water Sources. NC Onemap Geospatial Portal, 2017.​​
  7. “North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality.” NC DEQ, deq.nc.gov/news/hot-topics/pipelines/acp​​
  8. North Carolina Department of Transportation. NCDOT ArcGIS Online Portal (aka GO!NC). ArcGIS Online Portal: NCDOT, 2015.​​
  9. “Robeson Liquefied Natural Gas Facility.” Piedmont Natural Gas | Robeson Liquefied Natural Gas Facility, http://www.piedmontng.com/about/pipelineprojects/robesonlng.aspx.
  10. United States Geologic Survey. National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) 1:24,000. USGS and USDA – NRCS.​​
  11. USGS and USDA – NRCS. Watershed Boundary Dataset (WBD). NRCS Version, 2013.​​
  12. “Why We Need to Restore FloodPlains.” American Rivers River Connect Us, www.americanrivers.org/threats-solutions/restoring-damaged-rivers/benefits-of-restoring-floodplains/​

Drive Time 3:45

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Santa Monica Pier, California

Stop 6: Santa Monica Pier, California

Image result for santa monica pier

FINALLY!!! We have made it to our last destination on Route 66, the Santa Monica Pier in California! Officially dubbed the end of the trail for this iconic road in America. In 1909 the pier was built for municipal uses and a pipe was placed underneath to dump sewage into the ocean. Eeewwww! In the 1920s the city stopped dumping sewage into the ocean and the pier then had a new purpose. It became the best fishing spot in Santa Monica Bay. In 1915 and 1916 they had a “keeping up with the Jones” moment and wanted to build an amusement park on the pier to attract attention like neighboring piers. So, like anyone trying to impress, they went bigger and built a larger pier along the first, making two piers in one. From that moment, the Santa Monica pier, over time, would thrive and fall, literally! Storms have knocked it down, but like all great American heroes, it keeps getting back up again. If you would like to know the complete history of the Santa Monica Pier HERE is a link to the history.

Image result for santa monica pier route 66

Today the Santa Monica Pier is a national icon! It has made its way into pop culture, being shown in movies like Forrest Gump or the show Grey’s Anatomy, it is continuously brought back to us as a Great American Landmark. So when you take your Route 66 road trip, be sure to make it all the way to this American Treasure and experience something that so many before you have.

Image result for santa monica pier

Through the flatlands of Illinois, Missouri, and Oklahoma across the plains of Texas and the barren lands of New Mexico and Arizona and to our FINAL destination of California we have traveled so far in such a short amount of time. I don’t know where our next trip will take us but I can’t wait to travel there with YOU! This trip has been so much fun and I hate to leave ya’ll, but it’s time I fly back home to North Carolina. I wish you luck in your travels home, where ever that may be, but remember to be an Adventurer and to get up and go near, go far, go from sea to shining sea, just get up and go discover what America has to offer YOU!

-Safe travels from a Carolina Girl

References:

Santa Monica Pier, santamonicapier.org/.

Drive Time 1:30

Is The Research Worth it?

Hello Adventurers!

Recently my college was holding an undergraduate research symposium (PURC) and this year I was encouraged to submit a poster. I have completed research for years for papers and projects but I have NEVER presented my research in a public forum. When I found out that this was required of me I wanted to back out because public speaking has never been my strong suit. To say I was nervous was the understatement of the year. Luckily, I had a partner in my research. This helped because I knew that when I struggled for words, he would be there to take over, like when my stage fright stopped me mid-sentence.

PURC was an all day event but I was only able to attend the keynote speaker and the poster session, where my partner and I presented our research. The best part of the day was the keynote speaker who was inspiring with his passion for research. He spoke about the opportunities that he experienced over the years with internships and research. Saying that in some cases he had to work from the bottom, mowing and weed-eating grass, to show his dedication so that he could move up the ranks to be allowed to help others with their research.

The keynote speaker also led to one of the most nerve-wracking moments of the day when he started talking and showing his research for the EXACT SAME topic that my partner and I had researched. Talk about a jaw-dropping moment. At that moment my partner and I KNEW he was coming to talk to us. Scary. But as he inspired moments of fear he also gave great advice. Telling us that if we ever got opportunities to take part in research to take it. Don’t turn down the opportunity because we didn’t want to commit to THAT research our whole life. He reminded us that any research is just a start and that it could lead to other interest and opportunities down the road. Another tidbit he offered was to have the support of our family and friends, which is true. I would not be where I am today if not for the support of my family.

After the keynote speaker finished speaking and we started presenting our posters I was surprised at the people who came up to us and wanted to engage with us over our research. I wanted our poster to be GREAT but hoping it was at least acceptable was hard to handle until we started talking to others about our research. And of course, halfway through the keynote speaker showed up. But I don’t know why I even worried, because he was nothing but encouraging and supportive saying that he was glad we were covering the topic and posed questions, offered resources for additional research, and even played the Devil’s Advocate so that we would be prepared for the ‘hard’ questions if we wanted to take our research further.

Overall the experience was one that I do not regret. My partner and I are even talking about trying to further our research and continue with the topic on a broader scale. If nothing else, the experience at PURC has given me the confidence that if I choose to present again that I will have nothing to fear. Just do the research and present with the best of my ability to those who have questions or are looking for knowledge.

So be an Adventurer and get up and go near, go far, go from sea to shining sea, just get up and go research what inspires you and share it with the world!

-Safe travels from a Carolina Girl

Drive Time 1:00

My Driest Post Yet: The Rain Shadow Effect

Hey Adventurers!

Today we are going to talk about a weather event. Specifically about orographic precipitation and the rain shadow effect and how it affects us in the United States. The first thing we need to understand about mountains or mountain ranges is that they have a windward and leeward side. When prevailing winds come from the ocean and hit a mountain that is called the windward side and when the winds fall over the mountain peak that is called the leeward side.

Image result for windward and leeward sides of a mountain

Orographic precipitation is when moist air is lifted over a mountain range which then forms orographic clouds. The clouds will release the precipitation usually upwind of the windward side of the range. As the winds go over the peak all of the precipitation has been released before the winds hit the leeward side of the mountain range.

Image result for orographic precipitation meme

The leeward side of the mountain that gets little to no precipitation is called the rain shadow. To help explain we are going to watch a short video from the University of Illinois about the rain shadow effect.

The west coast of the United States has two mountain ranges that are perfect examples of causing rain shadows. The Cascade Mountains reach from Washington state, Oregon, and Northern California and the Sierra Nevada Mountains are located in California. We can start with the example of the Cascade Mountain range that is examined in the video.

The states with the highest precipitation on the mainland United States is in western Washington and the north coast of Oregon. This next picture is from the NASA Landsat 5 satellite of the state of Oregon.

Oregon Rain Shadow

On the coast of Oregon, the winds come off of the Pacific Ocean and as the air rises in elevation the air pressure decreases allowing precipitation to fall out as rain or snow. That is why the left side of the picture is coated in green from the massive amount of vegetation the area can support from high rainfall. On the left side indicates the Oregon high desert which as the elevation decreases over the mountain and the air pressure warms this causes precipitation to stop falling so the area becomes a desert from little precipitation.

Image result for satellite image sierra nevada mountains

The Sierra Nevada mountain range, the green vegetative line away from the coast, is a little different from the Cascade Mountains in Oregon and Washington. The Coastal Ranges have a higher elevation than the coastline and beaches of California. They receive precipitation from the ocean when the prevailing winds blow in from the water causing a small rain shadow in the Central Valley of California. Even being dry this is a large agriculture region for the Golden State, especially for vineyards. But you might ask yourself how can anything grow in such a dry place? Vineyards need a hot and dry climate to thrive so this is the perfect place for it. This picture below helps explain the air movement through this particular area of the state.

Image result for california rain shadow

The Central Valley in California is not the only place in the state that has a rain shadow. As you see on the picture above if you continue off the coast to the east of the Central Valley is the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Because of a higher elevation from the Sierra Nevada, an even larger rain shadow has formed to the East. This rain shadow is the cause of one of the most famous deserts on the planet, Death Valley. Known as one of the hottest places on Earth this desert region sees little to no rainfall a year due to its location on the leeward side of the Sierra Nevadas.

So it’s interesting to see how the physical geography of the land will have an effect on the rainfall and general climate of an area. I hope this read helped you better understand that deserts aren’t just there because it was ‘supposed to be’ and that the desert may just be a shadow of a mountain range. So be an Adventurer and get up and go near, go far, go from sea to shining sea, just get up and go discover what is out there that America has to offer YOU!

-Safe travels from a Carolina Girl

Interesting Things:

12 Things you didn’t know about Death Valley.

Death Valley National Park

References:

Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Orographic Precipitation.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., 26 Oct. 2016, http://www.britannica.com/science/orographic-precipitation.

CBS News. “Nature up Close: Sierra Nevada, Death Valley and the Rain Shadow Effect.” CBS News, CBS Interactive, 3 Jan. 2017, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/nature-up-close-sierra-nevada-death-valley-and-the-rain-shadow-effect/.

CurrentResults.com, Liz Osborn. “Wettest Places in United States.” Wettest Places in United States – Current Results, http://www.currentresults.com/Weather-Extremes/US/wettest.php.

National Geographic Society. “Rain Shadow.” National Geographic Society, 9 Oct. 2012, http://www.nationalgeographic.org/encyclopedia/rain-shadow/.

“Oregon Rain Shadow.” NASA, NASA, earthobservatory.nasa.gov/images/79247/oregon-rain-shadow.

Drive Time 2:30

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

Stop 5: Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona

We’ve almost made it to our final destination in California following Route 66. But just like any road trip, we need to stop and experience some of our country’s natural landscape to make our trip successful. So to make that happen we are going to stop off in Arizona at the Petrified Forest National Park. Now, don’t let the name throw you. Being “petrified” seems a little haunting if you don’t know what petrified wood is. But believe me, it is VERY cool! And just to show you the AAAA-MAZINGNESS of the petrified forest I found this little video. It helps explain the how, what, when, where, and why of a petrified forest. ENJOY!

So how COOL is that? The perfect impression of extinct logs that are made of minerals! Fossilized trees made of Quartz, Gypsum, Jasper, and Amethyst this is a geologist dream! But it’s not the only thing the park has to offer. The Petrified Forest, also known as the “Painted Desert”, has a rock formation called the Chinle Formation. This rock formation consists of several different rock deposits from different times throughout history. The difference in the rock formation colors gives the landscape a beautiful rainbow effect that helped give the park the extra name. And because of the high level of erosion in the area not only are different rock layers on display but it makes it easier to find things like DINOSAURS!

Stunning striped purple sandstone formations of Blue Mesa badlands in Petrified Forest National Park

So this is the perfect stop to get out and stretch our legs a little, maybe even take a hike. This is the perfect place to experience a little bit of history and geology from a different place and time of our Earth’s history. Whether you are stopping for a short sight-see or wish to hike off the trail, getting to wander around and see the petrified forest would definitely make it into my book of wonders. Making this pit stop will ABSOLUTELY be a sight of beauty!

Hikers on the Blue Mesa Trail

So whether you are here to see the beautiful colors, look at petrified logs, or try and spot a dinosaur bone, enjoy the stop and take the beauty with you! Of course in the form of pictures, NOT as souvenirs. So Adventurers get up and go near, go far, go from sea to shining sea, just get up and go discover what Route 66 and America has to offer YOU!

-Safe travels from a Carolina Girl

If you are wondering about Stop 1 in my Route 66 picture series HERE is the link to that post. Thanks for reading!

Also, if you wanted more information about visiting HERE is the link to Petrified Forest National Park.

References:

“Geologic Formations.” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, http://www.nps.gov/pefo/learn/nature/geologicformations.htm.

“Science and Research.” National Parks Service, U.S. Department of the Interior, http://www.nps.gov/pefo/learn/scienceresearch.htm.

Drive Time 2:00

San Miguel Mission, New Mexico

Stop 4: San Miguel Mission, New Mexico

San Miguel Church, New Mexico

So far on our road trip across Route 66, we have stopped at Route 66 Hall of Fame and Museum, 66 Drive-In Theatre, and Cadillac Ranch and driven through Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas. If you need to stretch your legs after that long haul, then our next stop is going to be San Miguel Chapel. You might not be religious but that’s okay, you can still enjoy the history behind it. Built somewhere between 1610 and 1626 by the Tlaxcalan Indians from Mexico, the church has seen wars, revolts, and has been toppled by storms. The repairs and restorations it has seen over the past 400 years have kept it standing for all these generations. Preservation efforts are ongoing so that future generations will be able to see and enjoy this little piece of history. If you would like to see a more thorough timeline and more about the preservation efforts HERE is the link to San Miguel Chapel. Maybe one day I will see you there when we both get to drive down Route 66.

So don’t forget Adventurers to get up and go near, go far, go from sea to shining sea, just get up and go discover what Route 66 and America has to offer YOU!

-Safe travels from a Carolina Girl

References:

Emerson, Jimmy. “The Top 10 of Route 66: Sights, Attractions and Landmarks.” Route 66 Attractions State by State, http://www.theroute-66.com/state.html.

“San Miguel Chapel 401 Old Santa Fe Trail, Santa Fe, NM.” San Miguel Chapel Santa Fe NM Oldest Church in the USA, sanmiguelchapel.org/.

Drive Time 0:45