Category Archives: Kinder-Morgan Utopia 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…

No Pipelines and No Toxic Emissions – Get Your Yard Signs!

Get in touch and we’ll arrange for you to get yard signs!

yard sign 2 OOR    aw residents yard sign no nexus crop

Let us know how many you need… if we are out, we’ll get more!
At least one more theme coming soon.

These cost us $5 each… so we love donations!  Thanks.

 

 

Pipelines through the Oak Openings region – no thanks.

cbeyl-Cartoon-for-pipeline-protest

 

Thank you to cartoonist/illustrator Charles Beyl for this wonderful cartoon!  We oppose oil or gas pipelines trenching through the globally rare habitats of the Oak Openings region or under the Maumee River – NO Nexus pipeline and no Kinder Morgan Utopia.   Find out more

What is the Oak Openings Region and Why Should Pipelines Avoid this Area?

The globally rare Oak Openings region is a sandy strip of land located in Northwest Ohio and Southeast Michigan.  At first glance it doesn’t seem like a grand or magnificent landscape.

However…

The Oak Openings is designated by the Nature Conservancy as “One of America’s Last Great Places”, putting the region on par with the Florida Everglades and rain forests of the Northwest. The sensitive habitats here contain one-third of Ohio’s endangered plant species and are home to a host of rare animals.

The Toledo Area Metroparks, the Nature Conservancy, and the “Wild Ones” are just some of the groups working to preserve and restore the Oak Openings.

Of note are glacial sand dunes, wet prairie and some of the last remaining oak savanna habitats in the world.  Oak savanna is known for its aesthetic appeal, with dappled light, flowers and grasses nestled between towering oaks.  This habitat is particularly supportive to wildlife.

Many local residents have been part of initiatives to restore native plants and habitats such as prairie and oak savanna on their own private land.  Property owners in both Lucas and Fulton County have re-established native plants such as Wild Blue Lupine, Little Bluestem, Blazing Star, Milkweed and Blue-eyed grass.

This in turn supports native animals such as Eastern Bluebirds, Red-shouldered hawks, Red-tail hawks, Bald eagles, Red-bellied woodpeckers, wild turkey and whitetail deer.  Also the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly, the Eastern prairie fringed orchid and other Ohio listed animals such as the spotted turtle, Blanding’s turtle, lark sparrow and blue-spotted salamander.

Travelers from across the USA and around the world come here for migratory bird watching opportunities, photography and hiking. This represents millions of dollars to the Northwest Ohio economy.

lupine 5 on dunes

Construction and operation of oil/gas pipelines would be harmful to these sensitive habitats. What damage could pipeline construction mean?

This area has unique geology and hydrology.  Globally significant biological diversity is currently present in this area, but it is threatened by fragmentation, development, invasive plant species and changes in hydrology.  Even tiny changes to these specialized habitats can result in significant outcomes – negative and positive.

The Oak Openings region has a unique variety of specialized soils that support rare plant communities.  Trenching will disturb the soil layers.  Changes in water flow and soil compaction may damage wetlands and wet prairie by restricting water or allowing too much.

Native plant communities would be hard to replace or restore.  It can take years for individual plants to become established, and it can take decades for the matrix of relationships to become established. These plants cannot simply be “re-seeded” like grass.

Introduction of invasive species or water contamination and effects of de-watering are also concerns.

The currently filed (Spectra Energy) Nexus pipeline route would cut through the center of the Oak Openings – their route would disturb approximately 180 acres of the Oak Openings in Lucas and Fulton Counties (calculation is based on a 100 foot wide construction zone).  Kinder Morgan Utopia also plans to trench through the Oak Openings region in Fulton County.

We continue to argue for routes that avoid the historic portion of the Oak Openings region.

oak openings twilight meadow and deer

 

Map of historic Oak Openings Region

oak openings landcover map

Well Testing Recommendations Before Pipeline Construction – Fulton County Health Department

Fulton County Health Department is recommending well testing in advance of any pipeline construction on or near your property.   In comments made to FERC by the Fulton County Health Department (April, 2015) Commissioner Cupp outlined the issues related to dewatering and potential damage to water quality, the Oak Openings sand aquifer and drinking wells.

Dewatering would occur when pipeline companies need to pump large amounts of water out of a trench during construction.  Contamination of the aquifer is also a concern.  The concerns about drinking water and wells apply to any pipeline proposal for this area of Northwest Ohio, for example the Nexus Gas Transmission pipeline or Kinder Morgan Utopia.

Baseline testing will help if you need to prove you had a clean and productive well.

We will post later with labs and companies you can contact to do the testing.  We will also follow up regarding any grants or financial assistance for well testing.   Questions?  Contact us.

 

Recommendations for well testing before pipeline construction by Fulton County Board of Health

Recommendations for well testing before pipeline construction by Fulton County Board of Health

 

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.  

No Nexus Pipeline – No Kinder Morgan Pipeline in the Oak Openings

No Pipeline Construction through the Oak Openings - protect globally rare habitat wetlands, thel aquifer and local wells

We say NO Pipeline Construction through the globally rare Oak Openings, wetlands, forest, wet prairie, sand dunes, sand aquifer and local wells – No Kinder Morgan Utopia Pipeline and No Nexus Pipeline.

Nexus and Kinder Morgan Pipelines Aiming at the Oak Openings

Nexus Pipeline (Spectra Energy, DTE, Enbridge) and the Kinder Morgan Utopia pipeline – both of these proposed pipeline projects plan to trench through hundreds of acres of the globally rare Oak Openings region in NW Ohio. They would clear cut trees in a swath about 100 feet wide, trench it and pump out all the ground water as they dig.

Re-route the Nexus Pipeline and Kinder Morgan Utopia Pipeline OUT of the Oak Openings Region

Keep Nexus Pipeline and Kinder Morgan Utopia Pipeline OUT of the Oak Openings Region

This is unique habitat with glacial sand dunes, wet prairie, wetlands, oak savanna and other specialized micro-habitats. More than one third of Ohio’s rare birds, animals and native plant communities are found here in the Oak Openings region.

Also – Kinder Morgan threatens Bend View Metropark *Nexus would impact Farnsworth Metropark of the Toledo Area.

We are advocating a re-route of the Nexus pipeline and the Kinder Morgan pipeline so they are outside the historic portion of the Oak Openings and outside the associated sand aquifer that supports wetlands and drinking wells.

Please join us to keep pipelines OUT – Preserve the Oak Openings and support efforts to expand restoration and conservation.

Pipeline Construction and Dewatering: Putting Our Water and Wells At Risk

Below are comments of the Fulton County Board of Health, submitted to FERC (April, 2015) regarding the Nexus gas transmission pipeline proposal.  This statement outlines the issues related to necessary dewatering during pipeline construction given the extremely high water table.

Dewatering means pumping large amounts of water out of a trench during pipeline construction.  This process represents potential damage to the entire aquifer, water quality and drinking wells.  The concerns outlined here would apply to any pipeline proposal for this part of Northwest Ohio.

“The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is currently considering plans from Spectra Energy Corporation to construct the Nexus Pipeline to transport natural gas from Southern Ohio to Canada for processing. The potential route of the pipeline is through the geologically significant areas in Fulton, Lucas, and Henry Counties known as the Oak Openings Region (map included) of Ohio.

One of the traits that characterize the Oak Openings Region is the unconfined sand aquifer that provides potable water for the majority of individual households and businesses in this region. The sand in these areas extends from the ground surface to depths as much as 25 ft or more. In Fulton County, the majority of Swancreek, Pike and Dover townships contain the Oak Openings Sand Aquifer. In addition, portions of the aquifer extend into Fulton, Amboy, Royalton, Chesterfield, Franklin and German Townships.

The construction of shallow wells typically utilizing water from 10ft. to 20ft. below the ground surface is very common in this region. The fine sand and horizontal isolation from potential sources of contamination has enabled the wells developed in the unconfined sand aquifer to be used safely for generations.

The concern of the Fulton County Board of Health is the construction of this high pressure pipeline through the Oak Openings Sand Aquifer. This is an area with a natural high water table near or above the ground surface in many areas. The vehicles that will be used to install the pipeline have the potential to introduce contaminants directly to the aquifer such as diesel fuel, gasoline, hydraulic liquids, and other potential contaminants present in the construction phase.

It is expected that construction of the pipeline would require dewatering. The dewatering process has the potential to negatively affect the yields of the household wells located nearby.

Any event in the future that compromises the integrity of the pipeline structure has the potential to contaminate the Oak Openings Sand Aquifer and present a hazard for the thousands of residents using water from the Oak Openings Sand Aquifer.

The Fulton County Board of Health recognize that pipelines are necessary to transport Ohio’s energy to market, and we understand that reasonable safeguards will be put into
place along the miles of proposed pipeline. Under typical conditions, this may be adequate.
However, the Oak Openings Sand Aquifer is not a typical geology. The use of an unconfined sand aquifer by the majority of the rural population is not a typical scenario.

Public health is dedicated to the prevention of illness and hazards which may affect either the lifespan or the quality of life of community members. The risk of permanent contamination and short term dewatering of this vital aquifer is significant and avoidable.

We are concerned about the thousands of residents whose potable water supply could be negatively affected by the pipeline construction or any event affecting the integrity of the pipeline in the future.

The Fulton County Board of Health therefore respectfully requests that Spectra Energy Corporation consider any well-researched and presented reroute options during this planning phase that will avoid construction of the pipeline above and/or through the Oak Openings Sand Aquifer.

Note: Maps issued November 2015, show Nexus still proposing a route that would dig the pipeline through the Oak Openings sand aquifer.  Kinder Morgan proposes a similar route.