June 30, 2016

Partly sunny

Energy companies’ gas pipeline plan in early stages

ELYRIA — A proposed natural gas pipeline being contemplated by a consortium of three energy companies could cut across parts of Lorain and Medina counties.

The Nexus Gas Transmission line, which would carry natural gas extracted from the Utica shale fields in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio up to Michigan and on into Ontario, is still on the drawing board, but the groundwork is already being laid with local officials.

Lorain County Administrator Jim Cordes said he recently met with Nexus representatives to discuss the proposal, although he said the meeting was light on specifics and no paperwork was left with him.

Cordes said a map showed the pipeline starting in the southeastern portion of Lorain County and snaking northwest. The route was entirely in rural portions of the county, he said.

Medina County officials also have met with pipeline backers.

Andrea Grover, a spokeswoman for Spectra Energy Corp., one of the three companies working on the pipeline, said it’s too soon to say exactly where the pipeline would be laid, if built.

“Until we can get on the ground, it’s hard to say what the exact path of the pipeline will be,” she said.

If the project goes forward, the pipeline — which would have a 36-inch diameter and run roughly 250 miles — wouldn’t come online until 2016 or 2017, she said. The pipeline would be buried a minimum of 3 feet under the surface.

There are already concerns brewing locally about the proposed pipeline.

Sam Rubin, a former Oberlin College student still living in the city, and John Elder, a retired local pastor who still lives in Oberlin, urged the Lorain County commissioners to keep a close eye on the project during a meeting Wednesday.

“We just think that people should be given a choice about whether they want to live next to a natural gas pipeline,” Rubin said.

He said the technology used in gas transmission lines can emit carcinogens. And there’s always the possibility of an explosion.

Grover said the companies involved in Nexus — besides Spectra, the other companies are DTE Energy and Enbridge Inc — take safety seriously.

Rubin and Elder also raised concerns about how the companies plan to get the land they need to build the pipeline. Rubin said eminent domain is a real possibility.

“What we are very likely going to see is a private company coming in and taking people’s land for profit,” Rubin said.
Grover, however, called eminent domain a last resort.

“We have a great track record of being able to work with landowners,” she said.

County officials said they have no power to stop a pipeline from being built as long as the companies involved adhere to state and federal regulations and obtain the necessary permits.

Cordes said there are already several gas pipelines running through Lorain County.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.

About Brad Dicken

Brad Dicken is the senior writer for the Chronicle-Telegram. He covers courts and county government, and has been with the Chronicle since 2001. He can be reached at 329-7147 or BDicken@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter.