By Pat Loeb

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection is considering whether to let a Texas company dig in to the Brandywine Creek in order to replace a natural gas pipeline.

The plan faces opposition from environmental groups.

The D.E.P. has already rejected a proposal by Transcontinental to dig a trench across the Brandywine Creek to enlarge 2000 feet of pipeline.

Two years ago, the D.E.P. said it must use a Horizontal Drill method that would not disturb the Creek’s delicate ecosystem. Transcontinental spokesman Chris Stockton says the company re-applied because it continues to believe horizontal drilling is impractical.

“It’s like using a backhoe to plant a flower garden,” says Stockton. “It’s overkill.”

Environmentalists disagree and they fear that Transcontinental is trying to set a precedent for all future pipeline construction. Delaware Riverkeeper Maya von Rossum notes Transcontinental waited for a new administration in Harrisburg to reapply.

“The concern here is that we’re not going to have an environmental decision,” von Rossum says. “We’re going to have a political decision.”

The D.E.P. has agreed to extend the public comment period and says it will hold a public hearing sometime in July.

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