Residents, Swancreek Twp. trustees voice concern over pipelineWritten by Don Lee | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A group of Swanton-area residents opposed to a planned natural-gas pipeline found a receptive audience in the Swancreek Township trustees.
Though the trustees stopped short of a resolution against the pipeline, they expressed frustration at their Dec. 1 meeting at getting information from the people planning the NEXUS Gas Transmission project.
Trustee Pamela Moore said she has asked for information since Nov. 11 from Mark Wagoner, the Toledo lawyer representing NEXUS locally, but she said he suggested meeting privately. Moore told the audience of about 30 people at Monday night’s trustee meeting she did not want a meeting that was not public.
A resolution may be proposed for a vote at the start of the township’s annual budget meeting, 7 p.m. Dec. 8 at the township hall, Fulton County Roads D and 5-2 near Delta.
Though she said she was likely to side with the property owners, Moore said she wanted to “do my due diligence” before formally opposing the project.
Wagoner, responding to a phone message, referred all questions to NEXUS spokesman Arthur Diestel.
Diestel, responding by e-mail to a series of questions, pointed out Nexus hosted nine informational meetings along the study corridor “for for affected landowners, local and state officials” and is conducting an economic impact study with Ohio State University which it plans to share with local officials. The project is in its early stages and “there will be multiple other opportunities … for impacted landowners and stakeholders to … identify any potential concerns stemming from the project.”
He also said eminent domain, the process by which a government can take private property for the public good after fair compensation, would be a “last resort” and not a negotiating tool. He did not, however, respond to a question of how a private company could use eminent domain.
The pipeline would provide long-term local jobs “in the areas of construction, security, engineering, planning, maintenance, retail, transportation/public utilities and other support services,” as well as “temporary jobs during the design and construction period and ongoing positions for the operation and maintenance,” Diestel said in his e-mail.
Responding to a question about residents’ proposal of a “utility corridor” in which a right-of-way is set aside for all utility lines through a given area, Diestel said: “Where practicable, NEXUS has located the proposed study corridor adjacent to existing utility corridors – either electric transmission lines or underground pipelines/utilities which substantially limits the environmental impacts and effects to landowners.”
(See full Q&A with Diestel below.)
Neighbors organized in opposition, though, say that transparency is sometimes cloudy.
Township resident Liz Athaide-Victor, the chief spokesperson for the opposition group now calling itself Neighbors against Nexus, said notice of public meetings is often at the last minute and not everyone potentially affected gets notified. She said she asked for a map of the study corridor at one of the public sessions and was told that was not possible.
However, a company representative showed her a map on a computer screen, which she photographed. Those photos show the study corridor entering Fulton County at the southeast corner and heading north, largely following the route of a high-tension power line. It continues north until turning northeast near Palmyra, Mich, and continuing to Willow Run Airport near Ypsilanti, where according to the Nexus web site, it will join another pipeline to carry natural gas to Ontario, Canada.
The NEXUS pipeline is planned to deliver about 2 billion cubic feet of gas a day, linking the Marcellus and Utica shale fields with a pipeline grid in southeast Michigan, according to the project’s web site, nexusgastransmission.com.
The site identifies Spectra Energy Corp. and Detroit-based DTE Energy, formerly Detroit Edison, as the “lead developers” for the NEXUS project. Also involved is a company called Vector PIpeline LP, a partnership between DTE Energy and Enbridge Inc. of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Below is an emailed Q&A between reporter Don Lee and NEXUS spokesman Arthur Diestel.
1) Swancreek Township (Fulton County) Trustees mention not being able to get answers to questions, and not being able to get a public meeting. Trustee Pam Moore said attorney Mark Wagoner (representing NEXUS locally) are NEXUS officials or representatives willing to meet in public with township officials?
NEXUS has engaged federal, state and local officials to inform them of initial planned work in the study corridor areas and has shared information about initial survey plans in their area. As you may be aware, NEXUS recently held nine informational meetings along the proposed 250 mile study corridor for affected landowners, local and state officials. Furthermore, NEXUS is in the process of conducting an economic impact study with The Ohio State University and we look forward to sharing that information with local officials as soon as it becomes available. There will be multiple other opportunities throughout the lengthy evaluation process for impacted landowners and stakeholders to work with NEXUS’s experienced team to identify any potential concerns stemming from the project. NEXUS is in the early developmental stage and the proposed project is several years away from the start of construction.
2) Landowners mention threat of “eminent domain.” How do you intend to use this, and how can a private company use eminent domain in the first place without getting a government to invoke it?
NEXUS begins each and every easement negotiation with the expectation that a mutual agreement can be reached with the landowner. In the unlikely event that NEXUS cannot reach an agreement with a landowner and must obtain the easement interests through the eminent domain process, a court will determine the appropriate compensation in a valuation proceeding.
Please be assured that NEXUS does not and will not use the eminent domain authority as a negotiating tool. We will only exercise that right as a means of last resort.
For further information, please refer to the FERC brochure “An Interstate Natural Gas Facility on My Land? What Do I Need to Know?” which can be found on the FERC’s website at http://www.ferc.gov.
3) As this is a transport line with no local hookups, how does this benefit local property owners? What local jobs will be provided?
NEXUS is currently exploring opportunities to bring the benefits of natural gas to local communities along the proposed route. We will work with any interested local distributors, to help supply natural gas to residents of Ohio and Michigan. NEXUS will also work with any industrial areas that may need natural gas to help develop local industrial parks. When an area shows an interest in having access to natural gas, NEXUS will explore opportunities to install a section of pipe called a “T-Tap”, which would allow a portion of the natural gas supply to be redirected towards the area that is requesting access.
The proposed pipeline will bring job opportunities to the region in the areas of construction, security, engineering, planning, maintenance, retail, transportation/public utilities and other support services. The NEXUS pipeline will create temporary jobs during the design and construction period and ongoing positions for the operation and maintenance of the pipeline.
4) What is your opinion of the landowners’ idea of a “utility corridor” in which land would be acquired and set aside for pipeline and other utilities, for ease of inspection and regulation?
Where practicable, NEXUS has located the proposed study corridor adjacent to existing utility corridors – either electric transmission lines or underground pipelines/utilities which substantially limits the environmental impacts and effects to landowners.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, plays a key role in the development of new U.S. pipeline projects. Under direction from the U.S. Congress, FERC regulates the interstate transmission of natural gas. FERC is charged with determining whether proposed projects are needed and in the public interest, and ultimately authorizing projects. Their efforts continue by monitoring compliance through construction and operational commissioning.
5) What is your response to landowner accusations of decline in property values and inability to use/enjoy their land as a result of the pipeline?
NEXUS wants to assure you that there is no evidence demonstrating that natural gas pipelines affect property value. FERC, the lead federal agency regarding the construction of pipelines, researched this issue and reported the results in a recent Environmental Impact Statement issued in October, 2014 (FERC Docket No. CP13-499-000, pages 4-152 to 4-156).
Additionally, a natural gas pipeline impact study conducted at the request of the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America Foundation (INGAA Foundation) examined possible price and non-price impacts to locations along the route of a natural gas pipeline. The study determined that there is no significant impact on the sales price of properties located along natural gas pipelines and that pipeline size and product made no difference. It also concluded that there is no apparent impact on the marketability of properties located along a natural gas pipeline’s path and that a pipeline did not impede development of the surrounding properties. The study concluded that the results and conclusions of this study are very likely transferable to other situations involving natural gas pipelines in other regions of the country.
For more information about the existing US pipeline network, please visit