Dec 14, 2014

Southeast Michigan's Natural Gas and Oil Pipeline Boom: What's happening and How to have your Say

Proposed natural gas pipelines in SE Michigan will cause as many local impacts as the replacement of the Enbridge Line 6B oil pipeline (above) and keep pushing fossil fuels, instead of clean energy alternatives. Photo by Ron Kardos
Southeastern Michigan communities have been confronting at least three proposed new or expanded massive natural gas pipelines designed to move Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio fracked natural gas into and through Michigan to Ontario. Sierra Club opposes the massive ramp up in natural gas development around the nation through fracking that is one driver of these new pipeline proposals because the drilling, extraction and leakage in delivering this fossil fuel falls far short of being the "clean energy" the industry wants you to think it is. In addition, the construction of massive pipelines like these cause significant local environmental impacts as well.

Sierra Club leaders in the Michigan Chapter's Huron Valley, Crossroads, Nepessing and Southeast Michigan Groups are stepping up to the plate to fight pipelines and they encourage your engagement as well. Scroll down to find contacts for each of these four Groups who can help connect you with the fight in your area.  We also encourage you to sign up below so that we can follow up with you as each project develops.  These proposals are moving fairly fast, but there is time to weigh in now on at least one of the projects.

Three Natural Gas Pipelines Proposed:

Imagine a swoosh like the Nike logo aound the western end of Lake Erie and you'll have an idea of the maps showing three different proposed natural gas pipelines.  The proposed pipelines are the ET Rover Pipeline, the Nexus Pipeline (a partnership of DTE Energy, Enbridge Inc. and Spectra Energy) and the Utopia Project.  Each pipeline would start in eastern Ohio, western Pennsylvania or West Virginia, cross Ohio and Michigan before crossing the international border to enter Ontario, Canada.  Each project provides information on the links provided above including maps of the intended path.  But as has already been seen with the ET Rover project, the proposed location of the pipeline may be changed.  There are several critical hurdles for any additional construction of these pipelines, which include: acquisition of rights of way from private or public landowners; local permitting approvals if warranted; and approval by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which must follow the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), in particular by provide for a public environmental review process.

Public Input Opportunities on the ET Rover Pipeline 

Currently, attention is focused on the ET Rover Pipeline which wants to build a new pipeline up to 42 inches in diameter from Defiance, Ohio, through Michigan to Sarnia, Ontario.  The company is seeking approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which must prepare an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to weigh whether there are better alternatives to this proposal and whether the environmental impacts are too great to authorize the requested permits.
The first step in the EIS process for ET Rover is for FERC to take public comment under the Scoping Process.  Scoping is an initial step in the EIS in which the public needs to raise questions, concerns, provide information and other knowledge that ensures that the agency considers all the questions that need to be addressed.  The comments can be broad, such as this EIS needs to fully consider impacts of climate change related to the increased use of natural gas connected to increasing delivery of natural gas to Michigan and Ontario.  Or these comments can be very localized, for example indentifying sensitive ecosystems or raising specific, local health concerns. Most important is for ALL concerns or questions to be raised now, or they may not be considered in the EIS.  You don't need to be an expert to offer input, and asking questions about issues that concern you as part of your comments is just as valid as providing specific information in the Scoping Process.

Written Comments on ET Rover Scoping Process:
 The public can also provide  written public comments by December 18th through FERC's online comment system or through regular mail. Below are instructions on how to file a comment on the proposed ET Rover Pipeline with FERC. Filing just a written comment as an individual does not require you to register as a user.
  • Go to the FERC eComment website. (
  • Click on the eComment button, which takes you to an authorization page.
  • Enter your name and email address, and type in the “authorization” letters / numbers that appear.
  • Click on authorize.
  • FERC will send you an email. Click on the link in the email.
  • You should be taken to a page on the FERC website with your name and email filled in.
  • In the field for “Enter Docket Number” type PF14-14 (no spaces)
  • Click on the Search button.
  • Click on the blue cross in the far right column under the heading labelled “Select”
  • Enter up to 6000 characters in the box for editing a comment.
Provide written public comments by US Mail by sending your letter and 14 copies to arrive before December 18th to:
Kimberly D. Bose, Secretary
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
888 First Street, N.E. Washington 20426


Sierra Club Contacts: 

Below you'll find Sierra Club volunteer leaders in each of the four regional Michigan Chapter Groups that are already tracking and working to stop the massive natural gas pipeline proposals coming through southeastern Michigan.  In addition and if you are outside of these Groups but wish to help, please provide us your information by linking below the contact info.  We'll do our best to keep you apprised of the new developments.
Nepessing Group (Genessee County, Lapeer County and Northwestern Oakland County)
Ellen Waara (ellenwaara (at)
Southeast Michigan Group (St. Clair County, Macomb County, part of Oakland and Wayne Counties)
Jean Gramlich (jeangramlich (at)
Crossroads Group (Livingston County and western Oakland County)
Ron Kardos  (rmichael (at)
Huron Valley Group (Washtenaw, Lenawee, and Monroe Counties)
Nancy Shiffler 

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