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The Press Newspaper

Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

The Press Newspaper

The Press Newspaper

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The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency last week issued a Water Quality Certification for the Kinder Morgan Utopia gas pipeline.

The 12-inch diameter pipeline will be constructed through a 213 mile area, and stretch from Harrison County to Fulton County. It will go through the counties of Wood, Lucas, Sandusky, Harrison, Carroll, Tuscarawas, Stark, Wayne, Ashland, Richland, Huron and Seneca.

The proposed $500 million project will include a 100-foot wide construction corridor, consisting of a 50-foot wide permanent right-of-way and a 50-foot wide temporary work space. Pipeline impacts within the right-of-way are temporary and will be restored onsite to pre-construction conditions. Impacts that result in a conversion of wetland from forested to non-forested will require conversion mitigation as determined by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“This certification generally deals with construction projects where streams and watersheds could potentially be affected,” James Lee, of the Ohio EPA, told The Press last Wednesday. “The actual permit would be issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. But as part of that permitting process, the applicant needs to secure a Water Quality Certification from the Ohio EPA.”

As the pipeline makes its way across several counties, fill material will end up in the streams, he said.

Permit required
Anyone planning to discharge, dredge, or use fill material in a way that results in the placement of fill into waters of the state must first obtain a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which must be certified with a Water Quality Certification from the Ohio EPA. Discharges from the project have a potential to affect the quality of streams and wetlands in the following watersheds: Lower Maumee and Ottawa-Stony, Sandusky, Tuscarawas, Walhonding, Mohican, Huron-Vermillion, and Cedar-Portage. Although the project may result in a change from current water quality conditions, the changes cannot violate Ohio’s water quality standards that protect human health and the environment, according to Lee. Ohio EPA considered technical, economic, social and environmental aspects of the project before deciding to issue the certification.

The agency reviewed the project to ensure it complies with Ohio’s water quality standards. Ohio EPA also held an information session and public hearing in Fremont last September and received and reviewed public comments on the Utopia Water Quality Certification application.

The agency would also be involved in issuing another permit if compressor stations are used to help move the gas along the pipeline, said Lee.

“That would focus more on air emissions,” he said.

A copy of the certification, along with public comments and responses, can be viewed online at epa.ohio.gov/Portals/47/citizen/response/Utopia401WQC154671.pdf. The Water Quality Certification can be appealed to the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC). Appeals generally must be filed within 30 days of issuing a final action; anyone considering filing an appeal should contact ERAC at 614-466-8950 for more information.


Study
Ohio stands to benefit from $237.3 million in economic impacts from the Utopia pipeline during the first five years, according to a study by Kent State University associate professor of Economics, Dr. Shawn M. Rohlin. The study was commissioned by Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, Inc.

Project construction is expected to start early this year, and continue through the middle of 2018. The project will produce direct and indirect short-term and long-term positive benefits to Ohio’s business community and support a large workforce and high volume of economic activity in communities along the pipeline route, while meeting increased demand for energy originating from Ohio’s Utica Shale Region to help the United States become more energy independent. The Utopia Pipeline Project will generate $4.9 million in tax revenues, create 2,132 direct and indirect jobs in Ohio, contribute $144.9 million to Ohio’s gross state product and provide $87.5 million “uplift” to the Ohio economy through additional income and spending.

The pipeline will facilitate the movement of petroleum products ethane and ethane-propane mixtures to Windsor, Ontario. Initially, the Utopia pipeline will be able to hold 50,000 barrels per day with the ability to expand capacity to 75,000 barrels per day with the building of additional pump stations.

The majority of employment will consist of temporary construction workers. It is expected that the pipeline will require approximately 750 workers at any given time and the entire project will require about 1,000 workers, with at least 50 percent from the local labor force.

The pipeline project will generate approximately $4.9 million in tax revenue with $4.0 million coming from income taxes from construction workers and $724,500 coming from state sales taxes from out-of-state worker ending.

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