Michigan Land Use Institute

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Position on the Application of West Bay Exploration Co.

H2S Public Service Commission testimony

September 16, 1997 | By Arlin Wasserman
Great Lakes Bulletin News Service

I. The Michigan Land Use Institute (the "Institute") is a Michigan non-profit corporation created on June 12, 1980, originally known as "Connections." Some of its members live and own property in Filer Township. Filer Township also is a member of the Institute.

II. The Institute facilitated the negotiation of the limited oil and gas management plan for the Sand Lake Quiet Area in Whitewater Township, Grand Traverse County, Michigan. Since its reorganization in May, 1995, establishing oil and gas policies that are compatible with land use, the environment and the public interest has been a central part of the Institute’s work.

The Institute conducts research on the environmental, cultural, and socio-economic impacts and benefits of hydrocarbon development. The Institute holds community meetings on oil and gas issues and publishes a quarterly newsletter which provides independent news on Michigan’s energy industry.

The Institute also has a history of activities supporting civic, protective and improvement purposes related to the preservation of the quality of life in Filer Township, Manistee County, Michigan. Among these, the Institute supported Filer Township in a case heard before the Manistee Circuit Court wherein the Township’s ability to exercise zoning and police powers over natural gas processing facilities, pipelines and other componentry other than wellheads was upheld.

III. One of the Institute’s primary areas of emphasis is the threat to public health from accidental and intentional releases of hydrogen sulfide contained in natural gas. The Institute has presented a plan for managing risks associated with hydrogen sulfide to the Public Service Commission (PSC) and Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

IV. The Institute believes that the PSC should approve no additional flow lines for natural gas that in the event of a release, would expose the public to concentrations of hydrogen sulfide greater than the PSC’s own residential exposure limit of 1 part per million.

Until a policy for conducting risk assessments for such applications and monitoring hydrogen sulfide concentrations in operating pipelines is in place, no applications should be considered. Over time, the concentrations of hydrogen sulfide in natural gas from any single wellhead may vary.

V. The State Filer 1-10 Pipeline application indicates that West Bay Company ("West Bay") intends to convey natural gas from the Filer 1-10 Wellhead to a processing plant for which no permission has been received from Filer Township or the DEQ Air Quality Division and for which no location has been determined. West Bay indicates that only gas from the Filer 1-10 well will be conveyed through this pipeline.

A. According to the Institute’s evaluations, construction of a pipeline serving only the Filer 1-10 wellhead does not pose an imminent risk to Filer Townshp residents. However, the PSC should conduct an evaluation of the potential health and safety risks of this and all applications it considers.


The Michigan Land Use Institute concurs with West Bay’s intention to move only gas from the Filer 1-10 well and not gas from other production units in close proximity that contain significantly higher levels of hydrogen sulfide according to information provided by various hydrocarbon development corporations.


The Institute has advocated for managing future risk by restricting the ability of pipelines to convey sour gas. West Bay’s proposal appears to achieve this objective.


B. Because the State Filer 1-10 Pipeline will serve only a single wellhead, the Institute does not believe that the PSC has any regulatory authority over the pipeline. The applicant does not meet the standards for public convenience under Public Act 9 of 1929 as amended. The PSC should not issue a Certificate of Public Convenience because no public purpose is being served when the pipeline will serve only the needs of a single owner.

Michigan Land Use Institute

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