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Proposed Pipeline Perplexes Portage People

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Recently, news has surfaced that a Sunoco high-compression ethane pipeline will be built in southern Portage County. The pipeline will stretch from northeast Ohio to Ontario, carrying the gas from extraction sites to processing facilities in Michigan and Canada.

Proponents of the pipeline argue that the natural gas extracted could potentially provide energy for hundreds of years, and decrease US dependence on foreign energy sources. But fracking is still the subject of heated debates.
In a guide published in December by the Ohio Environmental Council, the influx of shale gas wells in Ohio using horizontal hydraulic fracturing methods has heightened concerns among scientists, landowners, and the public due to the possible environmental impacts on air, water and land. To date, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) has issued permits for more than 1,000 horizontal shale wells, and of that number, over 600 wells have been drilled.

“We want to make sure that people understand that this is a very tightly regulated industry on the federal level, and particularly here in Ohio at the state level,” said Mike Chadsey, of Energy in Depth Ohio. But Jack Shaner of the Ohio Environmental Council contends, “The problem is that the long-term effects of this process are unknown. We don’t have a perfect road map of the underground geology of Ohio. We don’ t know where all the faults are. We don’t know what the high-pressure injection of millions of gallons of waste may do to formations that exist underground.”

The issues of safety, proximity to homes, property values, the complex legal clauses required, water quality, products to be transported, liability, and health hazards are all of concern for homeowners in the area. “There is a clear need for information,” said Mary Greer, a coordinator for Concerned Citizens Ohio.  The proposed pipeline route passes within feet of homes, wells, and septic systems, as shown on project blueprints.  “We have had frantic telephone calls from people who are asked to sign easements that allow the pipeline to pass within 15 feet of their front door,” stated Greer. “People want to know what to do. Our purpose is just to present information.  There is no ‘for’ or ‘against’ pipelines in these meetings—just the facts.”

To that end, Portage County Citizens will be hosting free pipeline information meetings in Mantua and Hiram. “People don’t realize that an easement is not a lease—it is forever, and it means giving up use of the land, no matter who owns it. Long-term property values can be affected. A property owner can’t go into contracts like easements blind. They are too far reaching, with many undisclosed, unforeseen consequences. Attending an informational meeting can give residents a solid beginning in knowing what to look for,” Greer explained.

The first local meeting will take place in Mantua Township on January 25th from 2 – 4 pm at the Mantua Civic Center, on State Route 82. The meeting in Hiram will take place on February 1st from 2 – 4 pm at the Hiram Christian Church, located at the corner of Rte. 700 and Rte. 82.
The meetings do not replace consultations with pipeline attorneys, but will give property owners the background information they need to make educated decisions. For further information, contact Mary Greer at (330) 472-8086.