Pipeline Project Brings Public Comments - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

UPDATE: Local Pipeline Project Brings Public Comments

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A representative from Spectra Energy now says the pipeline project will now begin in "the Spring or Summer of 2015."  The same representative also says the correct Federal Energy Regulatory docket number is "PF 13-15."

The original story used dates and numbers on a handout provided by a FERC contractor available to all members of the public attending the open house.




Petrochemical industry plants based in the Gulf Coast states want to tap into our area's shale gas fields, but they need pipelines to supply them. Spectra Energy wants to build a pipeline that connects those plants with that natural gas.

The company wants to build beginning in February 2015 over 70 miles of new 30-inch natural gas pipeline cutting through five counties in our area. That new pipeline also requires construction of support facilities, and a promise of construction jobs during pipeline construction.

Clint Powell is the Business Manager of Local 809 of the Laborer's International Union of North America.  "We've had a lot of work in the steel mills doing the blast furnaces," he said.  "You know, the power plant's been good for us, too -- doing the SCRs, the scrubbers -- but now, those are done.  You know, we have nothing left but the gas and oil industry," Powell continued.  "And if it wasn't for the gas and oil industry here, there'd be a lot of our members hurting right now."

The Ohio Pipeline Energy Network - or "OPEN" - project now has reached a stage where Spectra Energy has to reach out for public discussion.  Susan Waller, Spectra Energy's Vice-President of Stakeholder Outreach & Sustainability, says the company has many employees in the field as part of the regulatory approval process.

"The environmental assessment - all of that we're actually in the process of doing now," she said.  "We have over a hundred people in the field right now doing surveys -- civil, environmental, and archaeological surveys," Waller continued.

Others came with much on their mind, and banded together to send a message.

"It started with a meeting in Mount Pleasant, a town hall meeting that drew about 80-some people.  Then we had a sign campaign with signs throughout our subdivision and town.  And now, we're here.  We wore T-shirts just to show solidarity," organizer Joe Zelek said.

Those residents worry about the proposed location of one of the compressor stations, saying Spectra's preferred alternative comes within 1500 feet of their subdivision.  Zelek remains unconvinced of the measures Spectra Energy proposes.  "There's no federal regulation, there's no state-of-the-art safety feature that can mitigate the risk of this facility," he said.

But Spectra's representative points out their company's record with pipelines in Ohio.

"We've been in Ohio for almost 70 years, and we have a thousand miles in the state, as well as seven compressor stations that are operating right now," Waller said.

If regulators with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approve the pipeline, construction could start in February 2015.  To follow the regulatory progress of the OPEN project, head for the FERC website, and look for "Docket No. PF13-15-000."