Gas pipeline could pass through Rappahannock

Courtesy of Spectra Energy
Closeup of Rappahannock portion.

A 427-mile natural-gas pipeline from Pennsylvania to North Carolina proposed by Spectra Energy would pass through eastern Rappahannock County, according to a map released this week by the Houston-based pipeline and distribution company.

Courtesy of Spectra Energy
Virginia proposed route map courtesy of Spectra Energy

The $4 billion project is in “the early development stage,” Spectra spokesman Arthur Diestel said Tuesday. The company has just begun to inform property owners whose land is adjacent or near to the “study route” depicted on the map, he said, primarily to make them aware of the proposed pipeline and as a prelude to surveys it hopes to begin by this summer.

A “study route,” according to the FAQ sheet included with a letter received this week by a Rappahannock landowner whose farm is east of Flint Hill along Crest Hill Road, is a 600-foot-wide preliminary route that makes allowances for property- or construction-related adjustments to come. The final pipeline route would be closer to 100 feet wide, and would be underground. It would be able to carry 1.1 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, Diestel said, and the company hopes it could be operational as early as late 2018.

Though the map’s scale and detail makes it difficult to be exact, the proposed route appears to follow the Dominion Power high-voltage transmission lines that also pass through Rappahannock between U.S. 522 and the Fauquier County line north of U.S. 211 and some distance east of Route 729 south of 211 and into Culpeper County.

Rappahannock County administrator John McCarthy said the county received notice of the proposed pipeline from Spectra late last week, and that the news was passed on to county supervisors. Spectra’s FAQ said the company would be arranging meetings with officials and regulatory agencies on the local, state and federal level.

Gas pipelines are regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC); Spectra’s FAQ said the company would also seek review by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and “appropriate agencies” of the states through which the pipeline would pass (Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina).

“I don’t think I’d like to see it,” said county supervisor Ron Frazier on Tuesday of the proposed pipeline. “But I don’t think there’s much any of us would be able to do about it, especially if it follows the Dominion power line route.”

McCarthy said the pipeline — like the Dominion power right of way — could bring some property-tax revenue to the counties through which it passes. Dominion’s recent upgrade of the transmission-line corridor through Rappahannock County, for example, brought the county an additional $30,000 in annual property tax payments.

Roger Piantadosi
About Roger Piantadosi 544 Articles
Former Rappahannock News editor Roger Piantadosi is a writer and works on web and video projects for Rappahannock Media and his own Synergist Media company. Before joining the News in 2009, he was a staff writer, editor and web developer at The Washington Post for almost 30 years.


  1. This is very bad news, but perhaps not unexpected.
    Utilities Rights Of Way seem top attract more.
    To me, a major question is if the Virginia Outdoors Foundation will behave in a competent manner on this
    regarding properties in Scenic Easement.
    If so, that would be a change from their behavior with the power line expansion.
    Jim Warwick

  2. On learning that the proposed course of a major Liquified Petroleum Gas (LPG) pipeline was being routed through Rappahannock County, I took it upon myself to explore exactly how much LPG would transit the county on a daily basis in terms of shipping volumes as measured on the high seas. While these figures are admittedly approximations, they do provide an immediate sense of the vast amount of LPG that is under discussion, as well as the infrastructure required thereby.

    1 cubic meter = 35 cubic feet, making 1.1 billion cubic ft (the estimated daily capacity of the proposed pipeline) = 28 million cubic meters per day.

    By way of comparison, the LPG tanker, S.S. Galea, can carry 134,425 cu.m of LPG. To give some sense of the size of this particular class of ship, the following photo is attached.

    It would take 200 such vessels to carry 1 billion cu.m of LPG.

    I rather hope that there is a mistake in my calculations. Certainly, Spectra’s Energy’s ambivalent record of safety violations does not inspire a vast deal of confidence in this project, at least not 1 billion cubic feet of confidence.

  3. Let me postscript my comment by saying I don’t see these companies as the enemy. I’ve been working with a company that leases rigs for drilling fracking wells for several months now and it’s a company full of lovely folks as I’m sure Spectra Energy is as well. Anyway, so much for my moralizing!

  4. Bud asked, “What do we know about Spectra Energy?”


    **Changed their name in 1989 from “Texas Eastern Transmission Corp.” to “Spectra Energy” after receiving the largest ever fine in the history of the EPA. They were fined for “improper toxic waste operations”. It was part of a settlement for “civil charges brought against the company for discharging highly toxic PCBs–polychlorinated biphenyls–at 89 sites along a natural gas pipeline running from Texas to New Jersey. ”

    **”Spectra Energy” it doesn’t just sound like a corporate name lifted from a John Grisham acts like one too.

    Here are some links to stories, all are separate incidents or miscellaneous hijinks.

    Conservatives have organized efforts against them:

    As have liberals:

    I understand the need for energy infrastructure but the number of accidents in this industry is alarming to say the least.

    However, just here regionally, in the last 6 months, there’s been the contamination of West Virginia’s water supply and that exploding oil train in Lynchburg (a buddy of mine, who”s been working on the RR, says the slang for those trains is “bombs on rails”, all the livelong day)

  5. Say it isn’t so, Mr. Editor. Look forward to the whole story. Big eminent domain issue looms. What do we know about Spectra Energy?

Comments are closed.