6 Counties Cut from Proposed ET Rover Pipeline Route

6 Counties Cut from Proposed ET Rover Pipeline Route

A large natural-gas transmission pipeline proposed for construction through southeast Michigan will now impact far fewer counties.

A deal with an existing pipeline operator means the ET Rover pipeline will no longer be built in Oakland, Macomb, St. Clair, Genesee, Shiawassee and Lapeer counties, Rover Pipeline announced Monday.

The pipeline, which still requires federal approval, would carry more than 3 billion cubic feet of gas per day from the production areas of Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio to Midwest markets including Michigan and beyond through a major gas hub near Sarnia, Ontario.

Rover Pipeline, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, announced the route change. The 42-inch pipeline would still be partly constructed in Michigan, from a hub in Defiance, Ohio, through Lenawee, Washtenaw and Livingston counties. There, it would interconnect with the existing Vector pipeline, operated by DTE Energy and Canadian oil and gas transport giant Enbridge.

The 348-mile, 42-inch Vector Pipeline, according to the company’s website, began operation in 2000. It transports about 1.3 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day from the Chicago area to parts of Indiana and Michigan, and then to Canada.

Vector also leases a 59-mile, 36-inch diameter pipeline between Milford and Belle River from DTE.

“As a part of the project, we’re always looking at route tweaks and alternative routes,” ET Rover spokeswoman Vicki Granado said. “This has been something in the works and analyzed for awhile. It took until now to be able to reach the agreement and make the announcement.”

Terms of the deal between Rover and Vector were not disclosed.

The announcement brings relief for residents along the initially proposed route, including some who endured months of disruption in 2013 and last year as another line, Enbridge’s Line 6B oil pipeline replacement, was constructed.

U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, applauded news of the Rover-Vector deal.

She had forwarded the concerns of residents along the proposed pipeline route to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, asking that they “thoroughly and transparently” address them.

“I have long advocated for greater access to energy, and that obviously means additional infrastructure to transport it, but we must ensure that we do it in a way that minimizes disruption for homeowners and local communities,” she said in a statement. “Now, as a result of this contract, local residents will gain greater access to affordable energy without the hassle and worries associated with new construction.”

But Richard Knopf, who lives in Pinckney near the Livingston-Washtenaw county border, still faces ET Rover pipeline construction in his neighborhood.

Knopf said he is concerned about the potential quality of life disruption, environmental contamination and the powerlessness of those near the line.

“I’m taken aback by the arrogance: ‘We’ve got the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on our side, so we can take your property through the courts if we have to,'” he said.

Granado said the revised project still requires FERC approval. Rover is updating all required paperwork and plans to have it to the agency by the middle of this month, she said.

The company proposes to have its pipeline from Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio to the Defiance hub completed by the end of 2016, with its Michigan segments completed the following year.

Contact Keith Matheny: kmatheny@freepress.com

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