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The debate over a new oil pipeline in Washtenaw County

Spectra energy and DTE energy have proposed a new natural gas pipeline that would run through Michigan.
Rina Miller
Michigan Radio

Growing demand for oil means Metro Detroit could be getting a new pipeline. And some residents aren’t happy about that.

The Wolverine Pipeline Company wants to install 35 new miles of pipeline next to its already-existing pipeline between Washtenaw and Wayne Counties. It runs from Romulus to Freedom Township.

That first pipeline is currently being leased to Enbridge, according to Tom Shields, a spokesperson for Wolverine Pipeline Company.

So building a second pipeline pretty much along the same route would allow Wolverine to transport –and control – 90,000 barrels a day of “refined liquid petroleum product.”

Shields says transporting that much by truck would require 425 trips every day.

“It is a safe, environmentally friendly way to move liquid petroleum from one source to the next,” says Shields. “And we really need to have this energy so we can drive our cars and manufacturing can continue to be had in the state and jobs can be created.”

Shields says most of the pipeline route runs through agricultural areas. But it does get into residential areas in Pittsfield Township.

In May, the Township’s Board of Trustees passed a resolution opposing the pipeline.

Mandy Grewal is one of those trustees.

“There are always chances of these pipelines malfunctioning, and then of course the negative environmental and health consequences,” Grewal says.

But the trustees don’t have the authority to block the pipeline.

It’s now before the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Wolverine Pipeline Company is hoping to get approval to start construction next spring, with the pipeline up and running by the end of 2016.   

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