Farmers win provisions in pipeline impact statement

Farmers’ voices were heard and are represented in language included in the final environmental impact statement involving the Rover natural gas pipeline, proposed to run through 20 counties in northern Ohio.

Energy Transfer wants to build the ET Rover project, a dual, 42-inch-diameter pipeline system across the state. Several provisions giving farmers more say in how their farmland is put back together after installation have been included in the statement, said Dale Arnold, OFBF’s director of energy, utility and local government policy.

The environmental impact statement includes consulting Ohio Department of Agriculture’s pipeline repairs and remediation guidelines in every step of the process and giving agricultural inspectors with the project stop-work authority for corrective action. Landowners have the ability to hire local land improvement contractors to create construction mitigation plans and repair any conservation practices and subsurface drain tiles that may be damaged during construction, too.
“There are a number of provisions we got for the first time,” Arnold said. “We have not seen these in environmental impact statements on an interstate pipeline in Ohio before.”

Arnold said the work put in at meetings on the county level, preparing landowners to share concerns to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, was the difference.

“We helped landowners participate in FERC’s scoping and comment meetings and focused on specific remediation issues that needed to be addressed,” Arnold said. “Farmers still have to take responsibility to create their remediation strategies and work with ET Rover to have them incorporated into the plan of construction work, but they now have a better opportunity to do that.”

FERC is finishing evaluations on the NEXUS Gas Transmission in the north part of the state and Columbia Pipeline Group’s LeachXpress in the south-southeast. “We hope that standards created on the ET Rover project carry over to the NEXUS and LeachXpress projects as well,” Arnold said.