fights pipeline route
An Ingham County commissioner is seeking the right to intervene with
the state in opposition to the proposed route of the new Wolverine gas
Wolverines guiding principle, said Ingham County Commissioner
Lisa Dedden, should be fewer people living near the pipeline and
fewer vital resources that we are endangering.
She, Lansing Mayor David Hollister and officials of the Lansing Board
of Water and Light plan to file petitions for leave to intervene,
allowing them to participate when the Michigan Public Service Commission
begins deciding the pipelines after a public hearing on Jan 4.
If the petitions to intervene are accepted, Dedden, the city and BWL
will be given their own chance after the hearing to show why they oppose
Wolverines proposed 26-mile pipeline along Interstate 96 cuts
through Deddens south Lansing district.
some areas were talking about a residential, densely populated
area, Dedden said. No matter how safe they claim it will
be, you cant just disregard the location. Dedden plans to
present the Commission with a 2000 census map showing populations along
the Interstate to show how many people will be affected.
Hollister and BWL are most worried about small pipe leaks, not easily
detected, which could drain into the citys aquifer. They prefer
a different route for the pipeline.
We are not convinced against that possibility, and we dont
think Wolverine is prepared to handle that problem, David Wiener,
Hollisters executive assistant said.
But Wolverine officials maintain that the project is the safest and
most economical solution to deliver gasoline to Lansing.
Right now we have tankers driving along that same route, past
those same wells, said Thomas Shields, spokesman for Wolverine.
We feel that those tankers are much more dangerous than a state-of-the-art
Shields maintained that Wolverine is equipped to handle any potential
problems. He listed safety measures, including a weekly flight over
the route to check for ground discoloration, and 24-hour computer monitoring
from Wolverines headquarters in Houston. Also, six shutoff valves
will be installed along the pipeline, two on either side of Sycamore
Creek and two at each crossing of the Grand River. But the valves are
roughly seven miles apart and the most populated areas of the routesouth
Lansing and part of Delta Townshipare in between.
Shields added that in case of an accident, Wolverine has worked out
a plan with the Ingham County emergency response team and that Wolverine
is responsible for any cleanup once an immediate threat is handled.
Despite the safety assurances, Eugene Buckley, Hollisters opponent
in the November election, shares the mayors belief that a different
route is needed.
I think its a horrible idea, Buckley said. You
have an accident near Cedar Street and I-96 and it could kill 5,000
Buckley is also concerned about the proximity of the pipeline to several
area schools. Maple Grove, Harley Franks and the Delta Center Elementary
schools all sit within a mile of the proposed route.
Although there is disagreement about the location of the pipeline, all
sides agree that a new one is needed. The current pipeline through Meridian
Township and East Lansingthe only line supplying the regionis
65 years old, and Shields said that Wolverine is unable to transport
gas through the line at full capacity because of its age and the fear
The new pipeline would deliver 3.1 million gallons of gasoline to the
Lansing area, which Shields said would meet the demand created when
the Total/Ultra Diamond Shamrock refinery in Alma closed in 1999.
Dedden said that the Jan. 4 public hearing is the last chance for the
public to voice its opinion. Wolverine held open houses from Dec 17-20
throughout the area, but fewer than 100 people showed up over four days.
Dedden believes that Wolverines intent was to give people a chance
to air their protests at the open houses rather than the public hearing.
She also thinks that Wolverine is trying to rush the process to minimize
If people let this proposal slip past them, it will happen right
away, and they will have to deal with it, Dedden said. Thats
why this public hearing is the bestand lastchance to voice