The flourishing supply of natural gas coming from the Marcellus and Utica shale regions in Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania has become a promising area for companies that develop interstate pipeline–and a potential migraine for those who are against massive amounts of gas flowing through their property.
Currently, there are several proposed underground pipeline projects that would transport natural gas across the state from the Utica and Marcellus shale regions to northwest Ohio.
The pipeline that has caused the most controversy is the NEXUS pipeline, proposed by Spectra Energy and DTE Energy. The 200 mile long pipeline with a diameter of 42 inches would be capable of transporting up to 2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day. This amount would supply an estimated 20,000 homes for a year. Gas from the pipeline would be available to industry and power plants fired by natural gas.
The NEXUS has gained so much attention not only because of its size, but also due to its proposed locations. The pipeline would run through more heavily populated areas, including Stark, Summit, Medina and Lorain counties.
Although the production of natural gas has allowed economic growth in Ohio, especially in the traditionally low-income Appalachian region, the development of pipelines will have an opposite effect. Property owners are worried their property values will shrink. They also expressed concerns that they will lose the ability to use their land in whatever ways they see fit and about the potential danger of leaks and explosions.
One couple’s property is directly in the proposed path of the NEXUS pipeline. Paul and Elizabeth Gierosky moved to semi-rural York Township, just outside of Medina to fulfill their retirement dreams two years ago. In August, the couple received a letter from NEXUS that stated their property, which consists of 34 acres, is in the direct path of the proposed pipeline.
The letter enraged the couple. In retaliation, Paul Gierosky said he has recently refused to allow surveyors on their property and that he plans to fight NEXUS for as long as he can. However, if the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approves the pipeline, unfortunately Gierosky and many others will not have a choice but to accept that their land will be home to the pipeline.
Companies that are in the business of developing interstate pipelines have the legal right to use the land they need through eminent domain proceedings. With the help from other property owners enraged by the proposed pipeline, Gierosky intends to take NEXUS to court in order to force the company to purchase their land.
Gierosky made the following statement regarding the pipeline:
They’ll ram this thing down American citizens’ throats … And they’re wrong.
Even though Gierosky and others are upset with the placement of the pipeline, Gierosky admits he does understand the need to get natural gas to market, but believes there is a safer place other than in a densely populated area.
Arhtur Diestel, NEXUS spokesman, explained that there are several regulatory steps that must be completed before the route of the pipeline is decided. Diestel said that because of the feedback from property owners and elected officials, a different route to the south will be deliberated.
If approved, NEXUS officials hope to start and complete the $2 million pipeline in 2017.