Category Archives: ET Rover Pipeline

Pipeline Updates – Spring 2017

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…

Pipelines in NW Ohio: FERC Has the Final Say

We know that ET Rover and Nexus are working hard to get their permits and certifications so they can proceed with construction.  BUT that day is not here yet!

Public comment and opposition can still sway the outcome.

In the case of the Nexus pipeline, for example, we are continuing to argue for a re-route that is safer and smarter – a reroute that affects fewer homes and families, avoids the aquifer (which feeds drinking wells) and avoids the globally rare Oak Openings region. Our re-route proposals would also move the compressor station further from Whitehouse/Waterville OH.

The projects are still under review.  Now is the time to send your objections, comments and environmental concerns to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission  CLICK here for more instructions on comments to FERC

We hear it all the time…  “what can I do?”  WRITE!  Will a pipeline damage forest on your property?  Are you aware of any native or endangered species near your property or on the pipeline route?  Do you live in the Oak Openings region?  Are you concerned about water quality or wetlands?  FERC is considering environmental impact – and they have the final say on these pipeline projects.  

*Note:  Kinder Morgan Utiopia is not under FERC jurisdiction.

If And When You Must Negotiate A Pipeline Easement

If you are faced with a Pipeline Easement Agreement there are MANY things to consider.   You must protect your land, home, family and future.

The land agent who knocks on your door works for the pipeline corporation – his/her only job is to get your signature on a contract. His job is not to lay out the pros and cons or provide you with the information you would need to make an informed decision.  Language on these contracts typically favors the pipeline company, not the landowner.

Nexus Pipeline, Kinder Morgan Utopia and ET Rover – They do NOT have permits to build yet. You are under NO obligation to sign anything now.  And we recommend you delay.  

Here is a short list of what you will want to think about

  • An easement is on your deed forever – even if the pipeline is never built
  • Easements may be sold later to another pipeline corporation and there would be no renegotiation or additional compensation – unless you add language to protect against this
  • Easement agreements may include permission for above ground equipment or other facilities now or in the future – unless you specify otherwise
  • Multiple pipelines may be placed in the easement area. The company could come back later and add more pipelines in the easement unless you specify 1 pipeline ONLY
  • Pipeline companies could later change the type of transported materials.  The pipeline company can switch from natural gas to another kind of product unless you specify 1 product ONLY
  • You have the right to negotiate where on your property the pipeline is located, how deep it is buried, how trees are removed, how the soil layers are taken care of and and how the company can access your property
  • You are still responsible for property taxes and must also pay taxes on any money received for the easement
  • Additional property Insurance may be needed
  • You may be exposed to lawsuit and liability
  • An easement may impact your mortgage, refinancing your home, selling your property, property insurance and/or property values

We highly recommend you consult with a legal firm that specializes in pipeline easements and land acquisition. Contact us if you need a list of firms, however we do not endorse any specifically.  

Gas Pipeline Compressor Station – Heath Effects in Minisink NY

We often hear about the adverse health effects from living near a gas compressor station.

Here are excerpts from a recent article from Minisink NY, where emissions from a compressor station are creating problems for the residents.  People are reporting a list of symptoms and ailments.   People are also leaving their homes or having to sell their homes at low low prices.  The 12,260 horsepower station was built in 2013 by Millennium Pipeline, a subsidiary of Columbia Pipeline Group.

(Whitehouse and Waterville OH residents – the Nexus pipeline wants to put a 26,000 horsepower compressor station in your towns.  Over 11,000 residents would be affected.)

“November 24, 2015 —
MINISINK, NY — In June, Leanne and Rob Baum and their four children abandoned their house in Minisink, leaving it to the bank holding the mortgage and oversight by a friend. Ominous symptoms from emissions of a 12,600 horsepower gas compressor built in their rural neighborhood two years before by Millennium Pipeline, LLC, prompted their decision, said Leanne. After it had been six months on the market they had no offers on their house, and selling to another family felt morally questionable.  “Once you know, you can’t un-know about the hazards,” she said. “I hoped no one would be interested.”  No one was, and others in the neighborhood negotiated with “lowball offers” to sell their houses in the once-quiet rural community after they had been a year on the market, Baum said.

The compressor tripled ambient levels of fine particulate matter, which produces inflammation throughout the body and increases the likelihood of heart attacks and other ailments, according to Harvard environmental epidemiologist Joel Schwartz. Volatile organic chemical emissions that SPEHP identified included formaldehyde and benzene, which are considered unsafe at any level and associated with childhood leukemia by the World Health Organization.  Rob was one of 12 of the 35 in the survey who developed headaches after the compressor began functioning. A Baum child was one of 10 who had rashes. Respiratory problems affected 22 people—six of the 12 surveyed children had nosebleeds; at least two adults became asthmatic. And, consistent with what the Baums noticed in their children, “Overall mental health and wellbeing levels were below normal for half of the respondents,” according to the survey summary.

“By the time health survey results came out early in 2015, the Baums, collaborating with other Minisink residents, had lost their federal court case against Millennium and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which had approved the compressor. It could have been built in an industrially zoned area in Deerpark, where Millennium already had facilities; they were just avoiding costly replacement of seven miles of pipeline, the Minisink group said. Also, the compressor application’s environmental impact statement omitted mentioning plans for a Wawayanda power plant, secretly documented years before.

“The gas industry and FERC refer to Minisink as a host community, but we are not hosts. We are hostages,” said Pramilla Malick, a Minisink resident…

 

ET Rover Pipeline Delay

The ET Rover Pipeline has encountered a significant delay.

Construction of the ET Rover gas transmission pipeline was planned to begin in the first quarter of 2016 and finish construction up to Defiance, Ohio by the end of the year in 2016.

However, in November it was announced that FERC will not offer the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) until July 29, 2016.

This delay may have ramifications for other pipeline proposals as well (updates as information is available).  Landowners: this is another reason not to sign an easement agreement yet.   We suggest it is too early in the process to do so. Remember – an easement is on your deed forever.

File Your Comments With FERC

Both the Nexus pipeline and ET Rover pipeline will require review and authorization by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.  The public is encouraged to write and express their views about how these projects would impact our lives and communities.

FERC is now considering the environmental impacts and other impacts that could occur as a result of the construction and operation of the pipeline projects :

  • Cultural and historical considerations
  • Air quality and noise
  • Public safety and health
  • Economic impacts
  • Impacts on agriculture
  • Geology and soils
  • Water resources and wetlands (streams, ponds, wells)
  • Environmental impacts to forest, drainage and other environmental concerns (this would include rare native plants, bird nesting sites, damage to the Oak Openings region, etc.)
  • Vegetation and wildlife
  • Migratory birds and endangered or threatened species
  • Land use and cumulative effects
  • Purpose and need for the project

It is urgent that you write FERC now.  
Focus your comments on these topics.  Offer facts and as many details as possible.


How to Send Your Comments to FERC

If you want to share your comments and concerns about a pipeline project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, there are a few ways to do so.

In filing your concerns, be sure to reference the docket number of the project.

NEXUS Gas Transmission Project – Docket Number: CP16-22-000
ET ROVER Gas Transmission Project – Docket Number: CP15-93-000

Electronic submissions are encouraged.

  • File your comments electronically by using the “eComment” feature at
    www.ferc.gov under the link “Documents and Filings” link. This is the easiest way
    to submit text-only comments on a project. Be sure to include your name and
    address in the text of the comment.  Have your comment ready in a document file so you can easily cut/paste it into the form.
  • For larger filings, use the “eFiling” feature.  Click the “Documents and Filings” link and select “eFiling”.  New users will be asked to sign up or “eRegister” to file a comment.  With this option you can include files, photos, diagrams, reports or other attachments with your submission.
  • If you prefer not to comment online, you may file a paper copy of your comments through the mail. Mail comments to:
    Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary
    Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
    888 First St. NE; Room 1A
    Washington, DC 20426

We suggest sending a copy of your comments to local, state and federal government officials.   Also send your comments to newspapers and media, as “Letters to the Editor”

Pipeline Hazards and Damage

Numerous pipeline proposals are aiming at northwest Ohio currently.  In particular we are focused on Nexus, ET Rover, and Kinder-Morgan Utopia.  Each one of these pipelines represents a hefty burden for our communities.  Some of our concerns:

Environmental

  • Destruction of flora and fauna of the Oak Openings Region – hundreds of acres of land would be clear cut and dug up.  Repair is impossible in some of these sensitive  habitats.
  • Wetlands may be damaged
  • Drainage issues and flooding problems if even small changes occur to creeks, ditches and field tiles.   The water table is high.  After all, we’re in the Great Black Swamp.
  • De-watering during construction will impact aquifers and shallow wells (less than 25 feet) may go dry. Contamination of the aquifer is a concern.
  • De-watering events may also aggravate algal blooms in Lake Erie.  Questions about effects to the watershed have not been addressed.

Safety

  • Proximity of pipe and compressor station to population centers, parks, elder-care facilities, water treatment plants, schools, homes and subdivisions.
  • Risk of ruptures and explosion from weld failures, third-party damage, or corrosion.
  • Evacuation plans would be needed in case of accidents, ruptures or explosions.
  • Local fire services (many volunteer) would be overwhelmed; lack ability to contain multiple fires in event of a blast.

Health

  • Toxic emissions from compressor stations such as benzene, formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds – VOC’s.  Health complaints reported near compressor stations include nosebleeds, headaches, asthma and other respiratory problems.
  • Reported stress and sleeplessness from noise, smells and low frequency vibration.

Property Value Loss

  • Property values would be lowered depending on proximity to the pipeline or compressor station. One independent study shows a 15-25% reduction is common.
  • Marketability of homes and land would be impacted.