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Here's a look at some of the stories making news today: A newborn in New Jersey is believed to be the first baby born with Zika related birth defects, charges could be coming in the shooting of a Silverback Gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo and park rangers are asking people to stop taking selfies with wildlife at Rocky Mt. National Park.

Ohio Pipeline Projects Stir Fears of Compromised Farmland Integrity

The ET Rover Pipeline would run through Clover Meadow Farm in Wayne County. (OEFFA)

The ET Rover Pipeline would run through Clover Meadow Farm in Wayne County. (OEFFA)
February 4, 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio – There are fears that two proposed pipelines, which would run through Ohio, will threaten the livelihood of some Ohio farmers.

The proposed Nexus and ET Rover pipelines would transport gas obtained from Ohio hydraulic fracturing operations through Michigan and up to Canada.

The pipelines will impact 25 counties, and Amalie Lipstreu, policy program coordinator of the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA), says besides affecting forests and waterways, the pipelines could compromise the integrity of farmland.

"And very particularly organic farmland,” she points out. “It's very vulnerable to contamination, to soil compaction, destruction of soil structure and potentially loss of certification for organic farms."

Lipstreu notes that approving the pipelines would show a commitment to an extractive energy industry that threatens water quality and is linked to earthquakes instead of long-term energy solutions.

Supporters of the projects maintain they would lead to cheaper energy, and say pipelines are the safest and cheapest way to transport natural gas.

James Yoder produces organic milk at Clover Meadow Farm in Wayne County, where the ET Rover pipeline would cut diagonally across 11 acres.

If the company does not use a mitigation plan, he says his organic certification would be in jeopardy.

"I probably wouldn't go on farming if we had to be conventional,” he states. “If they don't follow those guidelines, I'm sure part of the land or all of the land would be conventional. I don't know if we could get it back if we go through the three-year transition period to get the affected land back to organic again."

At this point, Lipstreu says there’s been no word if the company will take any measures to
prevent soil contamination, degradation of milk quality and loss of organic certification on Yoder's property.

But she adds the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is accepting public input on the pipelines.

"There is an opportunity for people to weigh in on this issue,” she states. “We can think about what we're doing here and think in terms of more long term sustainability."

She also points to the risks to health and safety posed by new pipeline infrastructure.

In November 2011, a natural gas transmission pipeline exploded in Morgan County, burning three houses and leaving a 30-foot-wide crater.

The next year, a pipeline spill polluted one and-a-half miles of Boggs Fork in Harrison County.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - OH