Review Articles: PIPELINES AND PROPERTY VALUES: AN ECLECTIC REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE

Article excerpt

Abstract

Incidents involving natural gas pipelines in 2010-2011 in California and Pennsylvania have brought attention to the risks of natural gas pipelines. This paper concerns whether proximity to pipelines affects residential property values. A broad literature exists on the effects of proximity to disamenities on property values, particularly of potentially hazardous sites. This paper is unique in focusing on pipeline studies using actual sales data. We find that there is no credible evidence based on actual sales data that proximity to pipelines reduces property values.

The incidents involving natural gas pipelines in September 2010 in San Bruno, California and in February 2011 in Allentown, Pennsylvania have brought widespread media attention to the risks associated with natural gas pipeline systems.1 This paper concerns whether proximity to pipelines, especially natural gas pipelines, has any effects on residential property values. As such, it is part of a broad literature on the effects of proximity to disamenities on property values, particularly hazardous or potentially hazardous sites. Generally that literature can be divided into studies dealing with mere proximity to a hazardous or potentially hazardous site (e.g., Kiel and Williams, 2007) and studies dealing with the actual presence of a hazard or potential hazard (e.g., Dotzour, 1997; or Rogers, 2000).

A comprehensive bibliography of studies of the effects on residential property of proximity to airports, high-voltage transmission lines (HVTLs), transportation corridors, and landfills and hazardous waste facilities as of the mid-1990s can be found in Bell (1999, pp. 89-97). That book also includes a comprehensive bibliography of studies of the effects of contamination on both residential and nonresidential property values as of the mid-1990s (Bell, 1999, 142-51). Review articles include Farber (1998), Boyle and Kiel (2001), Jackson (2001), Palmquist and Smith (2002), and Kiel (2006).2

This paper falls in the former of the two categories described above, that is, studies dealing with proximity to a hazardous or potentially hazardous site. Within that category is a sub-class of studies dealing with utility corridors, particularly HVTLs, which includes a relatively small set of studies dealing with the effects of proximity to pipelines, as well as the effects of pipeline releases or ruptures on property values.3 This literature review is eclectic for at least two reasons. It focuses primarily on pipelines and on studies using actual sales data.4 As noted above, there are a limited number of such studies, and many are not published in peer-reviewed journals. The inclusion of non-peer-reviewed studies in a review such as this is not uncommon; in fact, many of the studies, review articles, and bibliographies cited in this paper include references to such studies. Among these are so-called ''working papers'' by academicians, ''white papers'' by researchers at public and private institutions, and papers presented at meetings of professional societies or conferences. In addition, they also include work produced by researchers acting as expert witnesses in the context of litigation, which we also discuss. Such work is worthy of consideration for several reasons. Most obviously, to the extent that it adds to the body of knowledge regarding a particular issue, it should not be ignored a priori. Furthermore, while not always peer reviewed in the strict sense of the term,5 studies relied upon by expert witnesses typically are subject to scrutiny by experts retained by opposing parties and must pass muster with respect to admissibility.6 This said, it is important to remember when discussing the results of a study produced by an expert witness in a lawsuit that there often exist antipodal results produced by another expert witness retained by an opposing party in the lawsuit.7

Our review of studies of the effects of pipelines on property values indicates that there is no systematic evidence, based on actual sales data, that proximity to pipelines reduces property values. …