Michigan Resident Confronts Natural Gas Pipeline Surveyors With Shotgun

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Michigan residents aren’t happy about a proposed natural gas pipeline running through their properties, and they aren’t letting work on the pipeline begin without a fight.

As the Flint Journal reports, some residents aren’t allowing representatives from Energy Transfer Partners, whose 800-mile ET Rover Pipeline is proposed to go through West Virginia, Ohio and Michigan, on their land to survey. Earlier this week, one man in Genesee County, MI noticed surveyors had showed up on his neighbor’s property and reportedly confronted them with a shotgun. The elderly neighbor “didn’t really want [the surveyors] on her property,” according to Mundy Township Sgt. Tom Hosie, who had been dispatched when the survey crew called the police after the confrontation, but she wasn’t going to physically stop them. When the man found out that the surveyors were next door, he confronted them.

Another incident occurred when a Genesee County resident called the Sheriff’s Department after she said a survey crew visited her property without permission. The resident, Tammy Merkel, said she had plans of building a house on the vacant lot, which she had just purchased in June. But the pipeline’s proposed route goes right through the middle of the lot.

“We’re going to have a house on that property, right where that pipeline is scheduled to go,” Merkel said.

Merkel said that she’s getting frustrated with the surveyors, saying she’s told them multiple that the lot is slated for her future home. She said despite the fact that she’s told three contractors that they can’t enter her property to survey, the company sent a new contractor out to her property earlier this week.

“Everyone I’ve spoken too has been polite and non-committal,” she said. “It’s as though they are patting you on the head and saying, ‘Don’t worry about that right now. It’s just a proposal.'”

Multiple residents aren’t allowing contractors on their land to survey, refusals which could lead to the pipeline company getting a court order to survey. The pipeline’s impact on property values is among the concerns Michigan residents have about the project, which is currently in its planning stages but is projected to transport 3.25 billion cubic feet of natural gas each day. People are also worried about what they say is a lack of information about the pipeline — in September, after a meeting with Energy Transfer representatives, some Genesee residents still didn’t think they had enough information about the pipeline.

“It’s a one-sided show and tell,” Linden Mayor David Lossing told the Flint Journal of the meeting.

Energy Transfer Partners submitted a pre-filing request to FERC earlier this year, and the company hopes to have the project completed in 2017.

ET Rover isn’t the only natural gas pipeline that’s causing concern among the residents of the states the pipeline would cross. Kinder Morgan’s Northeast Energy Direct, which is proposed to carry natural gas through the New York and Massachusetts, also has residents refusing to allow contractors onto their land to survey.

According to the Pipeline Safety Trust, though natural gas pipelines have fewer overall significant onshore incidents, such as major spills, than pipelines carrying liquids such as crude oil, they have more incidents that result in death or hospitalization. That’s due largely to these pipelines’ risk of explosion. In February, a natural gas pipeline explosion leveled homes in Kentucky, and in 2010, a gas pipeline explosion in San Francisco killed eight people and destroyed 35 homes.