A new natural gas pipeline is in the works and would expend the web of pipelines running through Washtenaw County. In this week's "Issues of the Environment," WEMU's David Fair talks with Nancy Shiffler, chair of the Sierra Club's Michigan chapter, about the potential impacts of a new pipeline.
* The approval process for a new “NEXUS” natural gas pipeline stretching from Ohio to Canada is underway, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is in the processes of drafting an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) regarding the potential environmental disruption of the project.
* The Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, and several local townships have all expressed opposition to a new NEXUS build, contending existing pipelines are adequate to meet the need for natural gas in Michigan. There are concerns about environmental, health, and economic impacts.
* DTE is a 50/50 partner with NEXUS on this project. The companies have allowed the required public hearings pending FERC approval. However, the hearings are a formality as local governments cannot disallow the projects sanctioned by FERC. The Sierra Club is requesting an extension of the timeline to allow for more public comment.
* Nancy Shiffler is Chair of the Michigan Beyond Natural Gas and Oil Committee and Sierra Club Michigan Chapter, which have taken the lead in voicing opposition to NEXUS, preparing numerous statements outlining the concerns of Michigan residents, who will potentially be impacted by the pipeline. The Sierra Club contends the FERC may be underestimating the potential dangers to nearby waterways (including the Huron River), the short and long-term environmental impacts to soil quality, forested lands (including conservation easements), and, in the event of an explosion, the risk to several schools in the danger zone. Additionally, it says this pipeline is an over-build that the market pull is inadequate to support, because demand for natural gas in the region is on the decline. Finally, the Sierra Club notes that greenhouse gases, especially methane, are on the rise due to expanded natural gas exploration, a factor apparently dismissed by FERC.