Rover Pipeline

Rover pipeline tax payments pumping into county coffers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Pipeline tax revenue has started flowing into Wood County coffers. After much skepticism – some fueled by exaggerated tax estimates from pipeline officials themselves – the property tax payments from the Rover Pipeline project have been made to the county. And soon that money will be on its way to local schools, libraries, townships and other governmental entities. Rover Pipeline has paid a full year of property taxes in Wood County – adding up to $4.2 million, Wood County Auditor Matt Oestreich said on Tuesday. School districts will get nearly $2.7 million, county agencies will get $1 million, townships will take in $422,557, and local libraries will get $65,565. Rover Pipeline, with $57.5 million in property value, has now outpaced Toledo Edison. “They’ve become the most valuable single taxpayer in the county,” Oestreich said. And by next year, a second side-by-side Rover pipeline should be in operation – potentially doubling the tax revenue, the county auditor said. Oestreich said the hesitancy by school districts and other entities to bank on the pipeline is reasonable. “Schools are all waiting,” he said. Rover pipeline did not appeal its tax bill this year, but that right to appeal is offered annually, Oestreich said. “They can appeal next year, potentially they can do that every year,” he said. Oestreich said utilities do sometimes appeal, most recently Troy Energy located in Troy Township. The pipeline will continue to pay local property taxes throughout a 30-year depreciation cycle. The tax revenue coming in from the pipeline will lower the rates for others paying in the county. “That’s a positive for normal residential taxpayers,” said Karen Young, of the county auditor’s office. Much of the skepticism with Rover’s tax payments was due to the company’s exaggerated estimates of how much local entities would reap from the pipeline coming through the area. Some of those estimates, made when trying to woo support from local entities, went as high as $3 million a year for entities like Henry Township. However, that township will actually get $143,245 this next year. In 2015, when the initial promise was made by Energy Transfer which constructed the Rover pipeline, then Wood County Auditor Michael Sibbersen questioned the estimates. Current county auditor Oestreich shared those concerns about inaccurate estimates being given to township officials. “They were throwing around some rather large numbers,” Oestreich said. “I don’t think they understood Ohio taxation at all.” Following is a list of the annual Rover tax revenue going to each entity this year: Schools: $2,698,811 total Elmwood: $1,224,904.North Baltimore: $422,659.McComb: $40,186.Bowling Green: $831,206.Penta: $179,855. Townships: $422,557 total Bloom: $109,599.Henry: 143,245.Jackson: $39,062.Milton: $77,664.Perry: $52,985. Libraries: $65,565 total Wayne: $33,467.North Baltimore: $15,941.Wood County: $16,156. Wood County public agencies are also in line to get tax revenue from the Rover pipeline. The following agencies will divide nearly $1 million in Rover tax revenue: Wood County Park District: $57,482.Wood County Developmental Disabilities: $525,961.Wood County General Fund: $135,082.Wood County Historical Center: $2,874.Wood County Job & Family Services: $74,726.Wood County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services: $149,453.Wood County Senior Citizens: $40,237.Wood County Health Department: $28,741. None of the new Nexus pipeline running north of Bowling Green is located in the Bowling Green School District. The school district had delayed putting the Rover pipeline revenue in its budget, since it was unknown whether or not the funding would come through. The district’s financial advisor, David Conley, from Rockmill Financial Inc., also pointed out that the pipeline revenue is an uncertainty since the state sometimes takes that revenue from some districts to give to others that are struggling…


Tax revenue promised from Rover pipeline falls short

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   From the very start, local township trustees suspected the promise of millions of dollars from Rover pipeline into their township coffers was too good to be true. Pipe dreams. More than three years ago, officials from Rover pipeline met with county and township officials to explain the windfall they would be receiving from the double pipeline being constructed across the southern five townships of Wood County – Bloom, Henry, Jackson, Milton and Perry. All of the townships were promised at least $1 million a year. Two of them – Bloom and Henry townships – were promised as much as $3 million a year. The real numbers have now been reported by the Wood County Auditor’s Office. Rather than $3 million a year, Henry Township will get $143,245 this next year. That amount is expected to double next year when the second Rover pipeline goes into operation. That means about $286,000 for the township – a far cry from the original estimate from pipeline officials. In 2015, when the initial promise was made by Energy Transfer which constructed the Rover pipeline, then Wood County Auditor Michael Sibbersen questioned the estimates. Current Wood County Auditor Matthew Oestreich shared those concerns about inaccurate estimates being given to township officials. “I was skeptical for sure. Absolutely,” Oestreich said on Monday. “They were throwing around some rather large numbers,” Oestreich said. “I don’t think they understood Ohio taxation at all.” In 2015, Sibbersen said his office had to work with limited information, since the company would not provide the estimated value it used for the pipeline in its own estimates of total tax revenues. Also in 2015, Jackson Township Trustee Brendyn George demanded answers and said residents believed the townships are in for a windfall – over $1 million for his township, according to Energy Transfer. Henry Township Trustee John Stewart said Monday that his township also didn’t put much faith in those initial numbers. “At that point, they didn’t understand,” Stewart said of the pipeline officials. Townships operate on small budgets, and most trustees know better than to bank on big promises. “We don’t depend on that,” Stewart said. “Whatever we get is a plus. It will be invested in the roads,” he said. “I’m just happy we’re getting something for it.” Stewart said Rover pipeline officials repaired most of the Henry Township roads torn up for the pipeline construction – but two remain in bad shape. “We’ve been promised a lot and still haven’t received it,” he said. Energy Transfer officials have said the repairs will be made next spring. A call by BG Independent News to Rover pipeline’s media relations office on Monday about the inaccurate tax estimates was not returned. The company officials failed to explain that the tax revenue generated annually would be divided up among many entities – townships, schools, libraries, many county departments with existing tax levies, plus the county general fund. Not only was the dispersal of the funding not explained, but the total tax revenue generated by the pipeline company is also shy of its original estimate of $10 million a year. Once the side-by-side pipelines are both operational, the more recent figures show they will generate $8.4 million in tax revenue a year. A letter sent out earlier this month from Oestreich informed local governmental entities of the more realistic dollar amounts to come from the Rover pipeline. The numbers are the annual tax revenue for each entity based on the 2018 preliminary assessment certified to the county auditor’s office by the Ohio Department of Taxation. Oestreich…


Rover Pipeline ‘goodwill’ checks follow bad spill record

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Officials from Rover Pipeline – the company with 19 Ohio EPA violations so far and $2.3 million in fines and damages – presented some checks Tuesday to help first responders. The $10,000 checks, “offered in goodwill by the company,” are going to the emergency management agencies in each of the 18 counties in Ohio being traversed by Rover pipeline. Wood County is one of those on the route. The funds are to be used to purchase new equipment or offer additional training . “We hope these funds will go toward emergency first responders,” Bill Barth, senior specialist for emergency response with Rover, said as he passed on the giant checks. “We look forward to working with you.” Wood County EMA Director Brad Gilbert is grateful for the funds, but he would just as soon not have to work on a pipeline incident. He may use the check from Rover to help put a state MARCs radio system in the sheriff’s dispatch center. The $10,000 donation will pay just a portion of the total $40,000 expense. “The pressure’s on them to do the right thing during construction and operations,” Gilbert said of the pipeline. “Hopefully we don’t need it for any issues with them.” However, Rover’s accident record isn’t exactly clean. The check presentations come on the heels of Rover Pipeline being cited for a 19th environmental violation. Most recently, the Ohio EPA cited Rover for spilling contaminants into the Mohican River in Ashland County. When questioned about the level of trust counties should have in Rover, the company’s communications specialist said the 19 citations are based on Ohio EPA’s definition of a violation. “We’re showing different data,” Alexis Daniel said Tuesday as the pipeline firm prepared to hand out the giant checks in the Wood County Courthouse atrium to the EMA directors from Wood, Hancock and Seneca counties. The Rover pipeline is being constructed through southern Wood County on its way from West Virginia to Ontario, Canada. Despite the Ohio EPA’s records, Daniel said Rover has “not had an abundance of spills.” “The environment is very important to us,” she said. “We’ve been pretty diligent in following all the extra requirements” that were put in place after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission halted the pipeline work earlier this year. For more than four months, Rover had been under federal orders halting horizontal drilling at new Ohio locations due to numerous environmental violations. Among those was the release of more than two million gallons of industrial waste (drilling mud contaminated with diesel fuel) into a wetland in Tuscarawas County. The pipeline company subsequently dumped that same material into local quarries near sources for public drinking water. In this latest incident, the pipeline construction caused 200 gallons of bentonite-based drilling fluid to be released into a tributary of the Mohican River in Ashland County. Currently, Rover is also in violation of Ohio EPA’s orders from July, which required the company to file for a construction storm water general permit. The company has refused to comply with the order or pay the civil penalty. The state of Ohio filed a lawsuit against the Rover Pipeline on Friday, accusing pipeline operators Energy Transfer Partners, of discharging several million gallons of drilling fluid into local wetlands. The construction crews also mistakenly demolished a historic building in the way of the pipeline. On Tuesday, Daniel said Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler paints an unfair picture of Rover Pipeline. “It seems like he wants to argue it out in the media,” she said. “The people we speak with on…


Pipeline forced to pay after bulldozing historic home in eastern Ohio

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Rover Pipeline will be financing some historical projects here in Wood County as punishment for demolishing a historic structure along its route in another county in eastern Ohio. The historic Stoneman House built in 1843 near Leesville, Ohio — which was eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places — was demolished by the Rover Pipeline, a company building a natural gas pipeline across Ohio. Since the Rover line will be crossing through southern Wood County, a portion of the penalty Rover was forced to pay will finance some historical projects here. On Thursday, Wood County Historical Center Director Dana Nemeth will present a couple ideas for the funding to the county commissioners. The money could be used to make repairs in the historic asylum on the grounds of the county historical center. The building has some water problems causing damage to the walls. The funding could also be used to provide additional and more effective signage around the museum grounds. The pipeline money may help free up historical society funding for other projects at the Wood County Historical Center, according to Nemeth. “It looks like we might be able to do more restoration on other buildings since we have this money,” Nemeth said. Those buildings may include the site’s powerhouse and the hog barn. Any proposals for the funding must be submitted to the state historic preservation office. “As long as they give their blessing, it should be good,” Nemeth said. Rover tore down the Stoneman House before notifying the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, even though the commission had identified the building as a concern. On Feb. 23, 2015, Rover reportedly filed its application for the project, which included a commitment to “a solution that results in no adverse effects” to the historic structure. But the house was torn down in May 2016. After learning that the house had been torn down, preservation office staff said Rover should provide financial assistance to the state preservation office for local preservation needs. The company agreed to pay $2.3 million to a fund administered by the Ohio History Connection Foundation and the State Historic Preservation Office. A total of $1 million is for preservation work in the 18 counties crossed by the pipeline. The rest of the money will be used for projects across the state. Wood County’s share is $50,000. The demolition of the historic home is not the only screw up by Rover Pipeline along its Ohio route. Crews working on the pipeline recently spilled drilling fluid on wetlands in Stark and Richland counties, according to papers filed with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. The larger spill — estimated between 1.5 million and 2 million gallons — occurred in a wetland adjacent to the Tuscarawas River south of Navarre. The smaller spill is estimated at 50,000 gallons and occurred east of Mansfield. Both spills involved drilling fluids — a mud containing bentonite — from horizontal directional drilling. Energy Transfer Partners, based in Houston, is building the $4.2 billion Rover Pipeline to move natural gas produced by wells in the Utica and Marcellus shale areas from southeastern Ohio to distribution points in western Ohio, Michigan and Canada. The 713-mile route will have double pipelines varying in width from 24 to 42 inches in diameter. The company hopes to have the pipeline operating late this year.