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Posted: 07/23/14

Bruce trustees concerned
about gas pipeline route

by CHRIS GRAY
Observer Staff Writer
      Bruce officials are speaking out against interrupting farming operations with a 600-mile natural gas pipeline.
       The Bruce Township Board of Trustees voted 4-0 in favor of a resolution that will urge Texas-based Energy Transfer (ET) Partners to impede as few farmlands as possible when installing its new pipeline.
       Trustee Paul Okoniewski was not present at the July 16 meeting.
       The ET Rover Pipeline project would install a 42-inch natural gas pipeline for receiving gas from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio and transport it through Ohio and Michigan to the Union Gas Dawn Hub in Ontario, Canada.
       Around 150 miles of the pipeline will be in Michigan. The pipeline will begin in Ohio and work its way through six Michigan counties< beginning in Lenawee County and ending in St. Clair County       The exact route is still under development since the company is in the pre-filing period, so a detailed map of the route has yet to be released.
       Treasurer Deborah Obrecht said in speaking with ET representatives, the pipeline will not utilize easements owned by Enbridge Energy as it installs its 6B line. Instead, ET will seek its own path through the township.
       "The current survey shows that they are going to take centers of large tracts of farmland," Obrecht said.
       To counter this, the board approved of the resolution, which states the township wants to preserve farming in the community and that the pipeline be re-routed and use existing right-of-ways.
       "I also did list that they (residents) are just coming back from the Enbridge pipeline along with the M-53 widening," Obrecht said.
       Supervisor Richard Cory said one issue that pops up with pipeline installations is the impact on farmlands. He said once the soil is compacted the soil will likely not be the same as it used to be.
       The resolution will be sent to ET as well as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
       Cory said Energy Transfers is accepting public input on the pipeline, and encouraged residents to contact the company with their concerns.
       "The window of opportunity looks kind of small to get our opinion in," he said.
       ET has done pre-filing with the FERC and will continue with the process into January 2016 with a goal of receiving certification in November.
       Construction would begin in December 2016, with the Midwest Hub to Canada tentatively scheduled for June 2017.
       The Rover project will likely require a 50-foot right-of-way and need an additional 50-foot workspace next to the permanent one due to equipment needs, similar to how Enbridge is operating to install its 6B pipeline.
       ET's line will run parallel to Enbridge's oil pipeline, which runs across southern Michigan and will end in Sarnia. Enbridge's project to replace 285 miles of pipeline has received negative feedback from residents living along its route, saying it disrupts their land and causes traffic problems.
       Clerk Susan Brockmann said she would like to see the pipeline go through the hearing process so the township can then gather information and the public's input.
       "It's difficult, especially because we had the M-53 expansion, we have Enbridge, and now we have this," she said after the meeting. "How much can one little township take?"
       District 7 County Commissioner Don Brown said he will work with local communities to make sure Energy Transfer is clear on what route it plans to take through northern Macomb County.
       "We need to make sure it has the least amount of impact," he said.
       Energy Transfer spokespersons couldn't be reached for comment as of print deadline.


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