December 21, 2014

Medina
Intermittent clouds
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Upset homeowners told gas pipeline may run through their properties

To view a map of the pipeline, click here. To view a letter sent to a homeowner, click here.

Katie Anderson and Jon Wysochanski | The Gazette

Mario Pascolini got a letter in the mail Friday informing him that a 250-mile natural gas pipeline from Kensington, Ohio, to Dawn Hub, Ontario, might be crossing his Guilford Township property.

On Tuesday, he went to Medina County commissioners looking for answers about the pipeline project.

He didn’t get any.

Commissioner Pat Geissman said she also received the letter for property she owns in Guilford Township.

“I don’t believe we have the authority to stop it,” she said.

Geissman said she reached out to Ohio House Speaker Bill Batchelder, R-Medina, state Sen. Larry Obhof, R-Montville Township, and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio informing them of residents’ concerns and inviting them to conduct a public meeting in Medina to answer the questions and concerns regarding the pipeline.

“Residents have a right to have their concerns answered,” she said.

The pipeline, called the NEXUS Gas Transmission Project, is still in the planning stages. But Medina County residents have received similar letters in the mail, informing them that the tentative route for the pipeline is located on their properties.

Pascolini said he received a second letter Monday from Houston-based Spectra Energy Corp., one of the corporations involved in the project, asking for permission to survey his property and stake out where the pipeline would go.

“I’m not giving them my permission,” he said.

Erica Donerson, a spokeswoman for Detroit-based DTE Energy Co., one of the lead developers in the energy consortium undertaking the project, said land surveys will help developers pinpoint the exact pipeline route.

“We reached out to landowners and they received survey letters this week,” Donerson said. “We are truly in the preliminary stages of this project.”

According to a map provided by Spectra Energy, the proposed pipeline will cross 11 counties in Ohio including Medina, Lorain, Erie and Sandusky.

Pascolini and other residents presented their concerns about property values and possible safety problems to county commissioners.

“I’m here looking for action to be taken to stop this pipeline,” Pascolini said. “If this pipeline ruptures, I won’t be worried about it because I’ll be dead and my neighbors will be dead.”

Kathie Jones, a Sharon Township resident and co-founder of Concerned Citizens of Medina County, asked commissioners to conduct a public meeting to inform residents about the pipeline and to answer any questions.

“Now that letters are going out people need to know what is going on,” she said. “It’s going to affect everyone in the county.”

The three commissioners said there would be no point in holding a public meeting.

“We’re not going to hold a public meeting for something that we have no jurisdiction over or have any answers for,” Commissioner Adam Friedrick said. “I’ve been a part of those kinds of discussions in the past.

“People throw stones, which is fine, but nothing gets accomplished.”

Commissioner Steve Hambley agreed, saying if the commissioners were to hold a meeting, “it would mislead people” into thinking that their questions could be answered by commissioners.

“It would generate more questions than answers, and there are better parties to hold that meeting than the commissioners, but all three of us are information-gathering,” he said.

Friedrick and other county officials attended an April 2013 private meeting Spectra held at the administration building in Medina.

Friedrick said the information given at that meeting was preliminary and he doesn’t know anything more about the project than the residents who received letters. He said construction of the pipeline was expected to begin in 2017.

“These residents have a distrust for the oil and gas industry,” he said. “I have all of the same concerns that they have because I live in Medina County, but I know how well the industry is regulated.”

Friedrick said there is “a fair amount of inconsistency” in the concerns of the residents because there already are several gas pipeline across the county that have been there for years.

Jones said the older pipelines are still concerns because many of them are corroding and causing environmental problems, but she’s protesting this pipeline to try to prevent more environmental risks in the county.

Pascolini said the NEXUS pipeline is much bigger than the other pipelines in the county, and will carry 2 billion cubic feet of material per day.

Nexus officials are hoping to complete construction of the 250-mile, 36-inch pipeline, which will be buried at a minimum of three feet, by the fourth quarter of 2017.

Arthur Diestel, spokesman for Nexus Gas Transmission, said the pipeline will increase the reliability of the region’s energy-delivery systems and positively impact the economy of the upper Midwest and eastern Canadian regions.

However, there are those who aren’t so sure the pipeline will benefit Ohio.

John Elder, a member of Communities for Safe and Sustainable Energy in Oberlin, said the pipeline is being built because gas that supplied eastern Canada from western Canada is no longer available because it is being used in petroleum tar sands production, which requires large amounts of natural gas for processing.

“The gas that used to be available isn’t, so they have to get their gas from other sources including eastern Ohio,” Elder said. “This gas is not for our use in Ohio; it’s to compensate for tar sands production.”

Elder also said he believes the natural gas eventually will be liquefied and shipped overseas once it makes its way to the Dawn hub in Ontario.

“The notion that this helps our energy independence is a false notion,” Elder said.

Elder said he and other residents are researching the rights of Ohio landowners to deny access to surveyors.

“I understand that in New York State a pipeline proposal was shelved because so many of the landowners did not allow the surveyors on their land,” Elder said.

Dietsel denied the gas would be exported. He said the Nexus project will provide affordable, clean natural gas to the Midwest, Chicago and the Dawn hub.

“(The pipeline) will increase the reliability of the region’s energy-delivery system and positively impact the economy in the upper U.S., Midwest and eastern Canadian regions,” Dietsel said. “This gas is intended to be used by local distribution companies and power plants.”

Dietsel said project representatives fully intend to provide communities with more information as the pipeline project progresses.

“There will be quite a few opportunities to come out and talk to us,” Dietsel said. “We want to listen to any concerns that landowners have, but stringent safety standards govern the transportation, distribution and use of natural gas.”

Contact reporter Katie Anderson at (330) 721-4012 or kanderson@medina-gazette.com. Contact reporter Jon Wysochanski at (440) 329-7123 or jwysochanski@chroniclet.com.