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Homeowners resist pipeline, fear property value decline and gas explosions

Original plan for natural gas pipeline route. This plan has now changed.
Draft FERC filing
The proposed route for one of the natural gas pipelines passing through Michigan.

There are a pair of natural gas pipelines being planned for Michigan. One is called NEXUS. Its main owners are Spectra Energy and DTE Energy. The other pipeline is called Rover. It's owned by Energy Transfer, which owns close to 5,000 Sunoco gas stations.

Both will carry natural gas from the Marcellus shale in Pennsylvania, crossing Ohio, through Michigan, and into Canada. They could use eminent domain powers granted to them by the federal government. A lot of homeowners along the route are not happy.

In a recent article for the Detroit Metro Times, Michael Jackman lays out the concerns of landowners whose property lies in the planned path for the 250-mile NEXUS Pipeline.

Among those concerns is the possibility a leak could take place somewhere along the pipeline.

“You’re talking about a 36-inch pipe that’s carrying 1.5 billion cubic feet of gas every day,” Jackman said. “Where there’s a rupture along that pipe, it’s often accompanied by a fireball. This the company’s words: 'It is an incineration zone.' In other words, everything within 1,000 to 1,250 feet of that ruptured pipe can be incinerated, vaporized by the blast.”

It isn’t just the risk of a leak along the pipeline that has landowners worried. Homeowners in neighborhoods through which the pipeline crosses are facing declines in property values, and there are immediate costs imposed during the construction of the pipe.

Jackman spoke with the owner of a disc golf course in Ypsilanti Township who fears that the viability of his business would be put in jeopardy by the clearing required for the construction of the pipeline. The trees that would be cut down are an important feature of his course.

Elsewhere, parkland and farmland could be permanently altered to clear a path for the pipeline.

“For people in Ypsilanti Township who enjoy the tree lines at Hydro Park North and South, they intend to go through and remove roughly two acres of trees so they can have a permanent right of way," Jackman said. "Nothing can be built there again. You find that all of a sudden these areas that were retreats, or woodlands, or productive farmland, will have to be, in many cases, dewatered and have a pipeline put in.”

Listen to our full interview with Michael Jackman to hear how homeowners are opposing the pipeline, and why DTE Energy's involvement in the project could end up costing ratepayers.

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