Coming down the pipe

A proposed Sunoco pipeline project has prompted Seneca County Farm Bureau to host an informational meeting planned for 7 p.m. Thursday for residents and community leaders.

The meeting is to take place at the Youth Center on the Seneca County Fairgrounds and be led by Dale Arnold, Ohio Farm Bureau Federation’s director of energy, utility and local government policy,

“Dale brings a wealth of knowledge in the arena of energy development,” said Darren Frank, organization director for Seneca, Wyandot, Hancock and Hardin Farm Bureaus. “Dale covers the state presenting the unbiased facts on energy development.”

Arnold plans to review the process a company has to follow to have a project approved, as well as explain how to review lease agreements landowners are being presented by pipeline companies.

Some of the topics in his program include developments involving interstate, intrastate and local collection pipelines; energy market trends; pipeline construction and remediation standards; and the work of the Ohio Power Siting Board and other regulatory agencies governing pipeline development.

Also, Arnold is to provide information on eminent domain and farmland preservation, as well as what landowners should consider in negotiating effective easement agreements with pipeline developers involved in interstate, intrastate and local collection network projects.

“Long-term energy demand and new drilling technology have sparked interest in tapping into the Marcellus and Utica shale deposits in parts of the Appalachian plateau,” Arnold said in a news release.

“Other energy service providers are revisiting many areas of western Ohio that saw oil and gas development in the twentieth century, too.

“While farmers and rural residents in some parts of the state are working with developers to access these resources, many farmers in this area will be working with other service companies to deliver some of these resources to refineries and markets,” he said.

The proposed Sunoco Logistics pipeline would cross 22 miles through Seneca County from the eastern side of Tiffin through the Bloomville area in a southeasterly direction. Part of the line would follow an existing easement where a pipeline from the 1940s exists but is no longer used. Another part of it would bypass the existing easement and be rerouted through new area.

In the four-county area where a group of landowners have begun organizational meetings, there are 160 miles affected through Huron, Richland, Ashland and Wayne counties.

“Representatives from pipeline and energy development companies are contacting residents in the region and many folks have a number of questions and concerns,” said Paul Snavely, president of the Seneca County Farm Bureau. “We understand that these representatives are requesting to work with landowners to conduct preliminary surveys and environmental evaluations across farm ground.

“The Seneca County Farm Bureau recommends that landowners contacted by pipeline and energy development companies schedule a time for the company to survey the property when the landowner can accompany them in the process,” he said.

During the initial meeting, Snavely suggested landowners write down names and contact information, discuss the farm’s specific soil and water conservation requirements and point out all farm resources and infrastructure that could be impacted during a construction project.

If landowners are asked to sign complex contracts or agreements, Snavely said they have a right to have legal counsel review them.

“Take your time. It is still early in the project development process,” Arnold said. “Farmers are realizing that many aspects of a pipeline easement agreement are not boilerplate, but highly negotiable.”

Arnold has been involved in energy- and utility-related issues since 1995, representing farm and rural residential energy consumers on work groups and public utility advisory boards. He has extensive experience working with local residents as well as government officials.

The meeting is the first scheduled by the local Farm Bureau’s Public Policy Action Team, and plans are in place to sponsor additional briefings where residents can meet project developers and representatives of state regulatory agencies governing pipeline development.

The meeting is open to the public. For more information to reserve a seat, call the local Farm Bureau office at (419) 447-3091.