Some Ohio farmers are opposed to a 250-mile natural gas pipeline that could run through Milan Township.
Other property owners want a corridor to restrict where the pipeline will be located.
NEXUS Gas Transmission LLC is halfway through a set of 10 open houses it is holding through Feb. 18 to hear from the public on its controversial plan for a 250-mile natural gas pipeline, two of which will be held in northwest Ohio this week.
The pipeline would connect to an existing line in southeast Michigan that winds up in Canada, so that natural gas could flow from the Medina County area of northeast Ohio into southwestern Ontario. It could pass through Milan Township in southern Erie County.
Arthur Diestel, NEXUS spokesman, has said the proposed route will be refined once the open houses are finished. The prospective corridor is 600 feet wide. The next step will be narrowing it to a 100-foot-wide proposed corridor, then seeking approval on a final, 50-foot-wide route, Diestel has said.
Mike Gastier, Huron County agricultural and natural resources educator for Ohio State University extension, said any project such as this could have a short-term impact on farmers. There would be land that farmers wouldn’t be able to farm “and that’s always an imposition.”
Such a project could also affect drainage of land surrounding the pipeline, Gastier said. Drainage systems could be cut, “but companies are typically good at repairing it but it takes time,” the educator said.
Gastier said he hasn’t heard any farmers complain about the pipeline.
He said in general, once a right-of-way is established for something, it can clear the way for other utilities and “it just reopens old wounds sometimes.”
Several northwest Ohio property owners are working with others across the state on a proposed energy corridor for NEXUS and other major natural gas transmission lines, especially now that the fracking boom is under way.
They argue that a patchwork of pipelines increases safety risks and could diminish property values. And the proposed 42-inch width of the NEXUS line is as wide as Ohio has ever seen.
Liz Athaide-Victor is a Swanton woman who belongs to Neighbors Against NEXUS, or NAN, a group of Fulton, Lucas, and Wood county residents opposed to the pipeline. It and a group in the Medina County area, Citizens Against NEXUS, or CAN, are part of a nine-county group called Coalition to Reroute NEXUS, or CORN.
Athaide-Victor said she fears the industry will create a “jagged mess” of underground pipelines unless Ohio designates an energy corridor for them.
“There has to be a more logical way of doing this,” she said. “We do not want our state looking like Texas or Louisiana.”
Paul Wohlfarth of Ottawa Lake said he and other property owners also want to keep the pipeline out of the ecologically sensitive Oak Openings region.
“People can’t sit back and let others worry about this,” he said.
The Ohio Farmers Union has passed a resolution in opposition to the project, joining several townships with resolutions on the local level. The group last week issued a statement that said it ranks pipelines with water quality, corn litigation, and U.S. trade policy concerns among the most pressing issues facing Ohio farmers. The statement grew out of the Ohio Farmers Union’s 81st annual convention.
Diestel said the pipeline, scheduled to be built and go online in 2017, will be safe and could spur development of manufacturing or other major businesses.
The proposed NEXUS pipeline is a collaborative project between Michigan-based DTE Energy and Houston-based Spectra Energy.