June 30, 2016

Partly sunny

Talk continues over proposed pipeline

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 already is being laid with local officials.

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

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 in the county and snaking northwest. The route was in rural portions of the county, he said.

Medina County officials also have met with pipeline backers.

Medina County Commissioner Adam Friedrick said the tentative route would cross Wayne County into Wadsworth Township. It would head west into Guilford Township, northwest into Lafayette Township and north into York Township. It’s then set to travel into Lorain County toward Grafton.

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 it’s 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 on line until 2016 or 2017, she said. The pipeline would be buried a minimum of three feet under the ground.

Concerns already are 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 Lorain County commissioners during a meeting Wednesday to keep a close eye on the project.

“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 put out 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 reporter Brad Dicken at (440) 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.