Natural gas pipeline proposed for northeast Ohio; EcoWatch raises concerns

CLEVELAND - An online environmental news organization says there's cause for concern about plans to construct a 250-mile natural gas pipeline from northeast Ohio to Canada.

"This is going to impact the environment . . it's also going to impact human health. This is a boom bust industry that's not going to provide long-term sustainability for our economy for the health of people or for the environment," said Stephanie Spear, executive director of EcoWatch.

Three energy companies announced plans to build the $1.2 to $1.5 billion pipeline Tuesday.

The pipeline would be used to transport Utica shale gas from fields in eastern Ohio to customers in Ohio, Michigan and Ontario, Canada.

Spear said the pipeline could leak and cause groundwater pollution. She also said a pipeline could contribute to air pollution.

Spear also said she believes the economic benefits will be short-lived.

Wendy Olson, a spokesperson for Spark Energy -- one of the companies involved in the Nexus Gas Transmission pipeline -- disagreed with Spear.

"This project will generate significant economic benefits to Ohio, through job creation and ongoing tax revenue. The bulk of the jobs will be during the construction phase, but there will be long-term positions associated with the project once it goes into service," said Olson.

Olson also said the pipeline would be safe.

"Natural gas pipelines monitor and control safety in many ways and use many different tools. Our pipeline safety and integrity management programs are designed to prevent pipeline failures, detect anomalies and perform repairs and often exceed regulatory requirements," according to Olson.

Enbridge Inc. and DTE Energy are the two other companies planning to build the pipeline.

The companies need permission from U.S. and Canadian agencies before they can start constructing the pipeline.

It is currently scheduled to start operations in November 2015.

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