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Controversial Pipeline Project Gets OK

A multi-state natural-gas pipeline running though Michigan has been approved. (DodgertonSkillhause/morguefile)
A multi-state natural-gas pipeline running though Michigan has been approved. (DodgertonSkillhause/morguefile)
February 7, 2017

LANSING, Mich. – A $4.3 billion natural-gas pipeline that will run through Michigan has been given the green light, sparking concerns about safety, the environment and the direction of energy policy in the state. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has given the ET Rover Pipeline its stamp of approval, saying the project's benefits outweigh concerns to landowners or surrounding communities.

But Nancy Shiffler, the chair of the Beyond Natural Gas and Oil committee for the Michigan Chapter of the Sierra Club, says the construction will pose numerous environmental risks, in addition to those that come from the hydraulic-fracturing process.

"Parts of the pipeline go through forested areas which are habitat for migratory birds and a couple of invasive bat species, and then the pipeline is going to travel under or through some important wetland areas," she explained.

The pipeline already has stirred up controversy across southeastern Michigan, including several incidents in which police had to be called to intervene between surveyors and homeowners. Energy Transfer, the company behind the project, also is responsible for the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Energy Transfer has touted the 510-mile pipeline as a "reliable, long-term supply of affordable natural gas," and says it has met all necessary safety standards to begin construction, however, Shiffler believes there were oversights in the regulatory process.

"They're supposed to consider alternatives to the pipeline, but they essentially dismissed the potential that the power needs could be met with an increase in renewables and other alternatives," she said.

The pipeline is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI