Environmental, public health, and safety assessment of fuel pipelines and other freight transportation modes

The construction of pipelines along high-throughput fuel corridors can alleviate demand for rail, barge, and truck transportation. Pipelines have a very different externality profile than other freight transportation modes due to differences in construction, operation, and maintenance requirements; labor, energy, and material input intensity; location and profile of emissions from operations; and frequency and magnitude of environmental and safety incidents. Therefore, public policy makers have a strong justification to influence the economic viability of pipelines. The authors use data from prior literature and U.S. government statistics to estimate environmental, public health, and safety characterization factors for pipelines and other modes. In 2008, two pipeline companies proposed the construction of an ethanol pipeline from the Midwest to Northeast United States. This proposed project informs their case study of a 2735-km $3.5 billion pipeline (2009 USD), for which they evaluate potential long-term societal impacts including life-cycle costs, greenhouse gas emissions, employment, injuries, fatalities, and public health impacts. Although it may take decades to break even economically, and would result in lower cumulative employment, such a pipeline would likely have fewer safety incidents, pollution emissions, and health damages than the alternative multimodal system in less than ten years; these results stand even if comparing future cleaner ground transport modes to a pipeline that utilizes electricity produced from coal. Monetization of externalities can significantly enhance the value of a pipeline to society. In this study, a pipeline with a construction cost of $1.37 million/km in 2014 USD and a NPV of revenue over 22.2 years of $1.85 million/km would be associated with $0.5–$1.3 million/km in avoided negative externalities—the majority of which are expected from avoided air pollution-related deaths ($0.26–$1.0 million/km) and avoided GHG emissions ($0.12–$0.19 million/km).


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  • Accession Number: 01596910
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Apr 8 2016 8:50AM