Nexus pipeline planners host open house in SwantonWritten by Don Lee | | firstname.lastname@example.org
A proposed 42-inch natural gas pipeline may run farther away from homes in eastern Fulton County, leaving opponents cautiously optimistic and pipeline planners insisting nothing’s set in stone.
Meanwhile, another pipeline proposal surfaced in the last few days, with a resident in southeast Fulton County getting a letter asking for permission to survey his property for the route of a smaller gas pipeline.
One of a series of public information sessions about the Nexus gas transmission lines took place Feb. 11 at Swanton High School.
Maps on stands placed prominently around the school’s cafeteria still showed the Nexus “study corridor” hewing closely to the north-south route of an existing high-tension electric line. However, two interactive maps set up so property owners could see how close the pipeline came to their properties show an alternate route running about one mile west.
Arthur Diestel, spokesman for Texas-based Spectra Energy, the company behind the Nexus plan, said the company was looking at several routes and welcomed community input.
He would not say specifically, though, whether opposition from groups organized along the pipeline route factored in to the alternative routes.
That opposition made its presence felt, with picketers outside and just inside the school and a section of drain tile meant to represent a 42-inch pipeline sitting in the bed of a pickup in the school’s parking lot.
About 200 people, including property owners along the proposed route, local interested residents and local public officials, milled around the Swanton High cafeteria amid maps on stands, tables of exhibits and handouts and giveaway water bottles, chip clips and pens embossed with the Nexus name. Blue-shirted Nexus officials and two employees of a private contractor hired by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to represent the government agency were there to field questions.
Also there was Paul Gierosky, whose opposition to the Nexus plan to cross his Medina County property evolved into a network of neighborhood activists along the pipeline’s planned 240-mile route — including the group that firmed in Fulton County in December as Neighbors against Nexus and is now the Northwest Ohio chapter of the Coalition to Reroute Nexus, or CORN.
“We started out as Coalition Against Nexus,” Gierosky said, but added the group is not so much against pipelines as in favor of them being rerouted away from large numbers of people.
“Being ’for’ something is an easier sell,” he said.
Protecting the pipeline is also part of the goal, he said.
“A lot of the problems these things have is because of people digging (into) them,” he said.
However, news that another pipeline company abandoned plans to install a line to link up with the pipeline network in Southeast Michigan, partly because of protests along the heavily populated route, was good news, he said.
The group’s efforts have included proposing alternate routes that would carry the buried pipe through farmland. Asked how property owners along the alternate routes regard those ideas, Gierosky said the opposition to the pipeline drops in less densely populated areas.
Additionally, some farmers have indicated they’d like the pipeline crossing their property because of payments they’d receive for easements and rights-of-way. Once the pipeline is buried, according to regulations governing them, farming is allowed as long as the roots of whatever is planted don’t interfere with the pipeline.
Meanwhile, at least one local, landowner has received a letter from still another pipeline company interested in crossing his property.
William Mack, who lives in southeastern Swancreek Township in Fulton County, said he heard Feb. 2 from Kinder-Morgan, a company planning the 12-inch Utopia pipeline project to link the Utica shale-gas fields to an existing pipeline already in Fulton County.
“I’m not even sure where they want to survey,” Mack said.
According to the company website, Kinder-Morgan wants a 12-inch pipeline running 240 miles from Harrison County to the company’s existing Cochin pipeline in Fulton County, and so connecting to a gas pipeline grid in Michigan that links to an export hub in Ontario, Canada.
That’s also the goal of the Nexus pipeline backers: linking the Marcellus and Utica shale-gas fields in and near southeast Ohio to the export hub in Ontario.
Three more open houses for the Nexus pipeline are scheduled, part of the FERC requirements for the licensing process:
- 5-7:30 p.m. Feb 12 at Central Park West, 3141 Central Park West Ave., Toledo
- 5-7:30 p.m. Feb. 17 at Adrian Tobias Center, Adrian College, Adrian
- 5-7:30 p.m. Feb. 18 at Lincoln High School, 7425 Willis Ave., Ypsilanti.