Pipeline installation a major topic in Ohio

Laurie Huffman Dix Communications Published:

CADIZ — At this stage in natural gas and oil development within Ohio, pipeline development is becoming a major issue, according to Dale Arnold, the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation Director of Energy, Utility, and Local Government Issues, who spoke on the topic at a recent public program held in New Philadelphia.

“Construction and remediation standards must be considered when interstate, intrastate, and local collection pipelines are installed,” said Arnold.

Pipeline and energy development companies have begun contacting residents across the region to request preliminary surveys and environmental evaluations, and Steve Quillin, president of the Tuscarawas County Farm Bureau, recommends accompanying them in the process to meet company representatives, get contact information, discuss the farm’s soil and water conservation requirements, and note infrastructure that could be impacted during a possible construction project.

George and David Mizer, landowners from Harrison County, near Tappan Lake, in Cadiz, recently had pipeline installed on their property, and the two spoke at the farm bureau session to outline some of the pitfalls. First of all, the brothers said not to be in a hurry when negotiating an agreement.

“These companies are in a hurry,” they said. “But, us farmers, we aren’t used to this stuff. The Ohio Farm Bureau recommended we not sign anything right away, so we slowed things down.”

As the two were negotiating their first contract with Dominion Gas, the company told them trees had to begin being cleared so deadlines could be met. The Mizer brothers signed an agreement just for that portion of the work so they could negotiate for a longer period on the main contract. The extra time proved fruitful, as they were able to negotiate the application of gravel along the sides of a pipeline ditch that was 10 feet wide and 7 feet deep, paid for by the company at a cost of $20,000. The two said they were given good advice they have always followed, which is: “If you don’t like the way the meeting is going, then say the meeting is over.” They also advise if there is a representative you are not comfortable with, tell the company to send someone else.

The Mizers also pointed out if land being crossed will be pasture, and if there are renters who farm or who own livestock, that is also something to think about. The brothers had pipeline laid where their renters wanted it, and the renters were also able to plan where the fencing would be placed. The two said beware of temporary fences, because they had to add barbed wire to keep their livestock from going through it. In the end, they requested all their temporary fences be woven wire. They also suggested working alongside the contractors as they usually know little, if anything, about farmland.

As final advice, the two said, “You don’t know how strong the EPA is until they come onto your property. You will want to have some say about reclaiming your land ahead of time, before they come around.”

The Mizers asked Dominion Gas to build up and wrap the sides of a stream to be crossed with pipeline. Now, the brothers report the stream is in better shape than it ever was, and they won’t have issues to deal with later from the EPA.

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