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Posted: 08/27/14

PLANNED FUTURE. Above, Jeff Axt, founder of Protect Our Land And Rights (POLAR), speaks to a standing-room only crowd at Bruce Township Hall on Aug. 18 on why they should oppose a gas pipeline proposed by ET Rover.

(Observer photo by Chris Gray)

Bruce Twp supports new route for ET Rover line

Observer Staff Writer
      Bruce officials have spoken against a new natural resource pipeline being installed in the township.
       The Bruce Township Board of Trustees voted unanimously on Aug. 20 for a resolution that supports re-routing a proposed natural gas line slated to go through the northern part of the township.
       The resolution will be sent to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
       ET Rover has approached the FERC to install a 42-inch pipeline beginning in January 2016. The pipeline will receive 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, with a portion of it going through Bruce Township. It would transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of gas per day.
       "We don't want Bruce Township to be the corridor for these pipelines," said Supervisor Richard Cory.
       The board's resolution stemmed from a two-hour presentation on Aug. 18 by Jeff Axt, founder of the non-profit Protect Our Land And Rights (POLAR) group and has sued Enbridge Energy over not complying with local ordinances for installing pipelines.
       Speaking to more than 100 residents, Axt, who owns 100 acres in Oakland County affected by the pipeline, said now is the time for residents to submit comments to the FERC if they want to affect its route.
       "If you're going to take it (property), you better show a high threshold of public need, and I don't think the pipeline company, ET, has done that," he said.
       Axt explained how the ET Rover pipeline came to be. Citing an article in The Detroit Free Press, Energy Transfer Partners argued its major north-south line wasn't needed in 2012. This line was converted to an oil pipeline for Enbridge Energy.
       Energy Transfers came back, though, with an application to the FERC to build the ET Rover pipeline in order to transport natural gas to Chicago and Gulf Coast markets.
       Axt's main message was to have residents contact the FERC with their thoughts on the ET Rover pipeline as soon as possible. Since no audience members indicated they were for it, he suggested they argue the pipeline isn't necessary.
       "We need to get everybody on the same page to get something better than if you just did nothing, because otherwise it's coming through in 50 feet from your house," he said.
       To assist in this matter, Axt gave residents thick packets of information as well as reasons for objecting to the pipeline, such as its running along the Enbridge 6B crude oil pipeline. He said this may not only cause national security problems, but would impact the safety with the pipeline's estimated 961-foot blast radius.
       Regarding safety matters, Fire Chief Ken Staelgraeve said a coalition of fire chiefs is forming to research and discuss the ramifications of the pipeline.
       "It certainly is a concern to us as well," he said. "It's just asking for more problems than we'd like."
       Axt's thoughts on a forward-thinking route were echoed by residents in the audience, all of whom supported the idea of the pipeline running along major highways like I-69.
       Axt also encouraged residents to speak with their representatives, from local government to state senators, about making comments to the FERC.
       "We want to be part of planning this the right way if it comes through," he said.
       Axt didn't encourage residents one way or the other on whether they should allow surveys of their land, but did recommend they receive everything in writing if they do.
       The township is already reeling from Enbridge Energy's Line 6B replacement project, so residents like Ron Alcini that live along the Enbridge pipeline route were encouraged by Axt's words.
       "We have trees out there that are worth a lot of money, and I have a well out there, so if they contaminate the well our house is rendered useless at that point," Alcini said. "It's not a money thing, we just don't want it coming through."
       No representatives from ET Rover were present at the Aug. 18 or Aug. 20 meetings. ET Rover representatives could not be reached for comment.
       Residents interested in commenting on the pipeline can contact FERC's eComment System and use docket number PF14-14-000.

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