Having pipeline construction just 280 feet from Greg Sautter’s house was more than an eyesore; it was a hindrance to getting to his crop fields and livestock. And restoration of the land was so poor that Sautter had a soil scientist evaluate the land and he sent the report to the company in charge of the ET Rover pipeline project.
“They said no problem with access to my land and I would have it at all times but that didn’t quite happen,” said Sautter, a Wayne County Farm Bureau member. “A lot of things happened during the reconstruction process that wasn’t quite right. I had to bring things to Rover’s attention because it did not appear they would identify it on their own and expected landowners to do that.”
In the end, the energy company listened to Sautter’s concerns and further remediated the land. Determined to not have other landowners go through what he experienced, Sautter and other Farm Bureau members banded together to submit comments this summer about their pipeline experiences with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. FERC was looking for input as it evaluated the rules and procedures for establishing interstate natural gas pipelines for the first time since the 1980s.
In true grassroots and policy development fashion, more than a dozen area Farm Bureau members met to discuss problems and recommend solutions. With guidance from OFBF’s energy expert Dale Arnold, they provided input individually and collectively in letters sent by both Wayne County Farm Bureau and Ohio Farm Bureau. Topics they addressed included eminent domain, pipeline route selection, contract negotiation, tile drainage, settling and erosion problems, soil compaction and the need for more on-site FERC inspectors. These efforts by Wayne County Farm Bureau members were coordinated as a follow-up to policy passed at the 2017 county annual meeting.
“The purpose was to make it better for the next farmer,” said Sautter, who has served on the county Farm Bureau’s policy development committee. “We can’t change what’s happened here in Wayne County because it’s done and over with. But by submitting comments to FERC, we can try to help farmers in the future.”
Members can contact their county Farm Bureau or Ohio Farm Bureau with any questions or concerns regarding landowner rights or access the Landowner Tool Kit online.