Our Opinion: Gas distribution takes another hit in ruling

Distribution prospects for natural gas in the Mid-Atlantic states took a hit recently when Maryland officials rejected a proposed pipeline across the western part of the state that would have carried natural gas produced in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

It was a win for environmentalists who have been arguing about a pipeline running three miles under the Potomac River near Hancock, Maryland, from Columbia Gas’ network in Pennsylvania to the Mountaineer Gas distribution system in West Virginia.

They won the argument last week, but we wonder how long it will be before stunting the future economic and energy portfolio of the Northeast will start to hurt numerous states, including Pennsylvania.

The pipeline was studied for two years and found to be environmentally responsible with the proper design.

That did not matter to the politically motivated board that rejected the pipeline. A similar mindset greets proposals in New York state.

No one seems to care that natural gas distribution can be a major asset to businesses, the economy and employable residents in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states.

Or that natural gas can be produced and distributed in a more environmentally friendly manner than fossil fuels. Or that it can produce the sort of volume that can adequately supply our region and others at a cost affordable to consumers.

The environmental arguments have been responded to over the past several years. Natural gas is — correctly — a very strictly regulated industry.

Sooner or later, the future energy needs of the region should take precedence over the political wishes of those who don’t want to take their environmental win and let progress succeed it.