Environmentalists push for Rover Pipeline shutdown

STOW — Last week, environmentalists, including FreshWater Accountability Project, Michigan Residents Against the ET Rover Pipeline, and the Sierra Club sent a letter urging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to immediately shut down all construction activity on Energy Transfer Partners’ controversial Rover Pipeline project.

The request comes after a series of environmental disasters during the first two months of pipeline construction. Since March, Energy Transfer Partners has racked up dozens of Clean Air and Clean Water Act violations, and had a series of spills that dumped more than 5 million gallons of drilling fluids into nearby wetlands. The Corps had approved the pipeline using a “one size fits all” general permit that, under the law, can only be used when environmental effects will be minimal. These spills show that the pipeline’s environmental effects are certainly more than “minimal.”

“As we’ve said from the beginning, it’s never a question of if a pipeline will spill, but rather a question of when. After only a few months of construction on the Rover Pipeline, Energy Transfer’s recklessness has already proven this to be true with its egregious and repeated spills and violations before the pipeline is even operational,” said Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Director Gail Philbin. “It is clear that they cannot be trusted to continue construction on this pipeline. Construction on this disastrous project must be halted immediately, and the Army Corps must require a more thorough permitting process in order to keep our waterways and communities safe.”

Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) halted drilling at eight water crossings along the pipeline route, but drilling continues to threaten dozens of other sites beneath Ohio’s wetlands and streams.

In their letter, the groups urge the Corps to revoke its authorization for construction of the pipeline and require individual permits for each water body crossing along its route.

“Given the serious environmental damage this project has already done, it is clear that Rover and its contractors do not have the necessary understanding of the geology along the pipeline route to avoid adverse environmental impacts,” said Terry J. Lodge, an attorney representing the groups who signed the letter. “The Corps has a responsibility to reduce or eliminate these impacts by revoking Rover’s authorization in favor of a regime of individual permits for each water crossing to avert further destruction of natural resources.”

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Staff report