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Position on the Application of West Bay Exploration Co.

H2S Publice Service Commission testimony

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

C. The Institute also believes that the application is premature because the Township has not approved a location for the production facility. West Bay has no reason to believe that either of the two proposed locations will be acceptable to Filer Township under its zoning ordinances or its obligation to protect the public health and safety of its citizens.


No local regulatory approval has been given and West Bay has mischaracterized their "working" relationship with local government officials. Filer Township has opposed the placement of processing facilities to serve this well in the past and is intervening in opposition to this proposal as well.


Only after West Bay has received approval from Filer Townsh to site the processing facility at a specific location would it be appropriate for the PSC to review this application. At that point, a different route for the State Filer 1-10 pipeline may be required. That is the appropriate time for the PSC to review an application that serves a legitimate public purpose.


VI. If the PSC chooses to grant a Certificate of Public Convenience, it should in no way limit the ability of Filer Township to exercise its legitimate zoning and police powers over the processing facility or any other component of the system. Such terms should be explicit in any document issued by the PSC for this pipeline and in future decisions by the Commission.

The PSC also should stipute that no additional wells may be tied into this pipeline if the resultant gas flow raises the concentration of hydrogen sulfide in the pipeline above safe levels.


VII. West Bay’s application is both clever and inappropriate. It seeks permission for a pipelines that will carry gas only from the Filer 1-10 well and not gas that contains higher concentrations of hydrogen sulfide. This may be an appropriate path to pursue if West Bay’s intention is to reduce risk to the public health and safety. However, West Bay is seeking permission from the PSC, rather than the DEQ and Filer Township, for a pipeline to serve only one well.

West Bay’s efforts foreshadow a potential increase in the fragmentation of Northern Michigan’s landscape as well. This individual corporation seeks to construct a pipeline to meet only its own need and to avoid the growing public opposition to common carrier lines that may contain dangerous concentrations of hydrogen sulfide. To the extent that other operators also seek their own pipelines, the number of cuts through the coastline, woods and neighborhoods will increase rapidly.

The PSC, DEQ and local governments must be proactive in addressing this concern and move to coordinate land use, natural resource preservation and preferred routes for natural gas pipelines.


  1. Because the application serves no public purpose the PSC should not issue a certificate of Public Convenience in this matter. Also, because the applicant has no basis for determining any route for the pipeline and has not obtained local and state approval for the processing facility, it is premature even to consider the application. Either of these decisions should be made before considering any potential impacts to the public health.
  • Respectfully Submitted,

    Arlin S. Wasserman, MPH MS
    September 16, 1997

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