Rover Pipeline needed in Michigan

The Detroit News

As the process continues for the eventual construction of the multi-state Rover Pipeline, the main opposition has not been from those who have cogent environmental arguments against it, but rather from the NIMBY — not in my backyard — crowd.

The latter can be the most disruptive yet also offer the least plausible excuse to reject a project that is much needed in the state.

Joey Mahmoud, senior vice president, engineering projects for Rover Pipeline LLC, based in Houston, says concerns of Michiganians are being addressed. He notes the original path of the 830-mile natural gas pipeline has been changed because it would have come too close to an existing oil pipeline.

Strong opposition was voiced last summer when it was learned the pipeline would go through several townships in Oakland and Macomb counties. Mahmoud says the route was shifted so the pipeline will be only in the very northern parts of Oakland and the northeast corner of Macomb. It also will run through Livingston, Washtenaw and Lenawee counties.

Mahmoud notes 15 public hearings have been conducted, seven in Michigan.

"We continue to reach out to the local and state elected officials to talk to them about the benefits of the pipeline," says Vicki Granado, spokeswoman for ET Rover. "We hope at the end of the day we're able to negotiate individualized easement agreements with all of the land owners."

Generally, the pipeline runs from gas reserves in Pennsylvania through West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan to storage stations in Ontario.

The NIMBY opposition forgets that there are benefits to the pipeline for not only the nation but local communities as well.

Local economies will get initial boosts from the estimated 10,000 workers hired to build the pipeline. Longer term, states will receive $153 million in property tax revenue. In Michigan, various taxes will raise a total of $32.4 million for state and local governments. Residents and local governments also will receive right-of-way fees.

Also, the company must do its part to ease concerns, starting with ironclad promises to repair any damage done in laying the pipeline.

While the final destination of the gas is Canada, 78 percent will be used in the states the pipeline runs through.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has the final say where the pipeline will be constructed. Currently, the company plans to submit a formal request to FERC in January for construction approval. Actual work is expected to start in 2016.

Although the final authorization rests with FERC, federal and state regulations will help ensure the pipeline is operated safely.

The company promises to monitor the line constantly. The line will be equipped with automated valve technology that is supposed to instantly close if there is a problem.

Pipelines play an important role in delivering the energy everyone uses. They have to go somewhere. As long as every step is taken to minimize its impact on residents and communities, the Rover Pipeline should go in Michigan.