Catching up a bit, we’d like to offer some updated information on all three of the pipelines aimed at our NW Ohio area – Kinder Morgan Utopia, ET Rover and Nexus. (for more updates on a daily or weekly basis please make sure you are following GPI on Facebook)
Kinder Morgan Utopia Pipeline Project
• The Utopia Pipeline Project is still progressing, albeit slowly. Kinder Morgan initially took the position that they automatically qualified for eminent domain. That was challenged and the pipeline was held up as a result of the Wood County Common Pleas Courts decision to not grant Kinder Morgan eminent domain.
• This pipeline’s original route impacted the Metropark’s Bend View property.
• They continue to work with landowners who are willing to sign easements and we understand Kinder Morgan is looking at a variety of re-routes.
NEXUS Pipeline Project (Spectra, Enbridge and DTE Energy)
• On November 30, 2016, FERC published the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the NEXUS Pipeline Project. The FEIS is one of last major hurdles prior to NEXUS receiving a FERC Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN).
Most of the findings in the FEIS were consistent with the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The FEIS admits that there will be environmental damage related to construction and operation, but mitigation will be mandated. They concluded that there is no environmental advantage to moving the pipeline or the compressor station away from the Maumee River or the Oak Openings region.
• However, The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has been without a quorum since January. Trump named Cheryl LaFleur acting head of the energy regulatory board in January, and hours later the previous chairman, Norman Bay, announced he was leaving FERC. The five-member body currently has only two members and is short of a quorum. Lack of a quorum prevents FERC from issuing further CPCN.
There is also a recent announcement by FERC Commissioner Colette Honorable said she will leave the board when her term expires in June.
• The White House has just tapped new commissioners. But, any new appointments will require Senate approval.
• A flurry of activity took place before Bay’s last day on Feb. 3, but several major natural gas pipeline projects, including Nexus, did not win last-minute approval before the quorum ended, and we see no such approval coming for right away. Yet, the company continues to say they will to achieve a targeted Q4 2017 in-service.
• Nexus partner DTE Energy had appealed to Michigan regulators to recover costs related to the pipeline by passing costs on to rate payers. Regulators denied the utility permission to recover power supply costs for the $2 billion project from its customers without an evidentiary hearing. This could impact the finances of the project negatively.
ET Rover Pipeline Project (Energy Transfer Partners)
• With a route to the south of Toledo, the ET Rover pipeline obtained a CPCN from FERC in February. This certification came in the last days of the FERC quorum. Tree clearing began in March along the route. Construction has started.
• Already there have been a number of incidents. ET Rover Pipeline spilled millions of gallons of drilling fluids into Ohio’s wetlands. Construction of the $4.2 billion project only began last month and according to regulatory filings obtained by Sierra Club Ohio, on April 13, 2 million gallons of drilling fluids spilled into a wetland adjacent to the Tuscarawas River in Stark County. The next day, another 50,000 gallons of drilling fluids released into a wetland in Richland County in the Mifflin Township.
The spills occurred as part of drilling operations associated with the pipeline’s installation – drilling happens under roadways, waterways and wetlands. The 713-mile pipeline crosses three major rivers – the Maumee, Sandusky and Portage, all of which feed into Lake Erie.
This situation is something we argued to FERC and EPA regarding the Nexus pipeline proposal and the potential damage of wetlands in the Oak Openings region. There are a number of contaminants that could pollute wetlands, streams and rivers during construction or later during operation. These include drilling fluids, cleaning chemicals, hydraulic fluid or gasoline.
More on these spills and the extent of the damage in another post…