Quakes and pipelines in Great Lakes

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State says NE Ohio well linked to quakes has way to reopen

Sunday, October 21

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (AP) — The state has suggested a shuttered injection well linked to two small earthquakes in northeast Ohio could resume operations if the owner submits an acceptable plan.

The Vindicator reports the Ohio Division of Oil & Gas Resources Management has urged Ohio’s Supreme Court not to hear an appeal from American Water Management Services regarding its well near Youngstown. The state told the Supreme Court in an October filing the case doesn’t present issues of statewide interest and the well could re-open if a comprehensive plan is submitted for safely restarting it.

The well pumped wastewater from hydraulic fracturing operations. The division shut it down after earthquakes were detected below ground in 2014. The company argued the state abused its discretion.

The 10th District Court of Appeals affirmed the state’s position.

Information from: The Vindicator, http://www.vindy.com

The Conversation

A Great Lakes pipeline dispute points to a broader energy dilemma

October 17, 2018

Author: Douglas Bessette, Assistant Professor of Community Sustainability, Michigan State University

Disclosure statement: Douglas Bessette does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment.

Partners: Michigan State University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.

A deal involving an aging oil pipeline in Michigan reflects the complex decisions communities across the country need to make to balance the needs for energy and safety with efforts to deal with climate change.

Gov. Rick Snyder and Enbridge, a Canadian company, have reached an agreement over a leak-prone pipeline that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac, the 4-mile-long waterway that divides Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

Rather than shut the 65-year-old pipeline down altogether, as environmentalists are demanding, or conduct routine maintenance, as Enbridge desired, Snyder is requiring Enbridge to replace the pipeline at an estimated cost of up to US$500 million without a deadline.

While the lakes, beaches and livelihoods vulnerable to harm from a potential spill are perhaps unique to Michigan, the question of what to do about a host of aging pipelines across the U.S. is not. Nearly half of the nation’s pipelines currently operating were built before 1960.

Amid rising oil and gas production, there are hard compromises to make between ensuring an adequate energy supply, protecting public safety, and reducing the nation’s reliance on fossil fuels – a key contributor to climate change. But my research suggests that there may be a straightforward way for both decision-makers and the public to make these choices.

Millions of miles

Approximately 3 million miles of pipelines move crude oil, natural gas and other hazardous liquids across the U.S. Most crude oil pipelines traversing the center of the country transport oil from western Canada and North Dakota southward to refineries in Texas and Louisiana.

Much of this system dates back to the economic boom of the 1950s and 1960s. Indeed, roughly half of the crude oil pipelines operating today are at least 50 years old.

More of the natural gas pipelines that span the county are concentrated around the Marcellus Shale formation, in eastern Ohio and Pennsylvania. And 60 percent of the 319,000 miles of pipelines currently transporting natural gas were installed before 1970.

A recent Department of Energy report suggested that replacing just the cast-iron pipelines, which are the oldest and riskiest variety, would cost approximately $270 billion.

The risks

Compared to hauling fuel by rail or truck, the Transportation Research Board, a nonprofit that serves as an advisory body to the White House, Congress and federal agencies, considers pipelines to be safer. Yet when pipeline accidents do occur, they are typically larger and impact the environment more directly than the alternatives.

When a natural gas line exploded in Massachusetts, where many pipes are over 100 years old, it destroyed 80 homes and killed one person. In 2012, another pipeline operated by the same company – Columbia Gas, this one built in 1967, exploded.

That earlier accident in Sissonville, West Virginia, charred 800 feet of roadway along a nearby highway, wrecking three homes, and melted the siding on houses hundreds of feet away. Following an investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board found many causes. Among them: corrosion and a lack of automatic or remote shutoff valves.

In 2010, one of Enbridge’s Michigan pipelines ruptured, spilling 1 million gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River. That pipeline was built in the 1960s, and made with the sorts of welding processes and protective coverings that have not stood the test of time. The cost to clean up that spill was more than $1 billion and spurred concerns among Michiganders over the safety of the Straits pipeline.

A big spill in the Straits of Mackinac could result in oil polluting over 1,200 miles of shoreline, cause $1.3 billion in damage and cost $500 million to clean up, Michigan Technological University researchers estimate.

Following an independent risk analysis, Snyder and Enbridge agreed that a replacement pipeline should be placed inside a tunnel and buried beneath the lakebed. Taking that step would substantially reduce the risk of a spill. But it will also take at least seven years to build. And the agreement assumes the Straits pipeline would continue to operate during the new pipeline’s construction.

Fracking boom

There’s one good reason why old and dangerous pipelines aren’t being shut down: the emergence of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking – the process by which water, sand and chemicals are injected underground at high pressures to crack rock and release the oil and gas trapped inside.

Despite concerns regarding methane leaks, water and air pollution and even earthquakes, there’s no sign that the fracking boom in oil and gas production over the next decade will slow.

The oil and gas industry anticipates production in places like North Dakota will keep growing over the next two decades.

According to the American Petroleum Institute, building the pipelines to accommodate this increase in output would require annual investments between $12-19 billion. A 2008 report prepared for the Edison Foundation predicted that modernizing the national oil and gas transmission and distribution network would cost $900 billion before 2030.

Some trade-offs

As the battles over the Keystone XL and the Dakota Access pipelines have shown, opposition to new long-term fossil fuel infrastructure projects is growing. Replacing old dangerous pipelines with new ones is not easy – or fast, even if it might reduce risks and carbon emissions.

There is also growing evidence, such as the latest report from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change that instead of a bigger and better pipeline network, the U.S. needs a new energy strategy, aimed at ending reliance on fossil fuels altogether by 2050. The problem is that once pipelines are built, they typically last decades. Building new ones would further lock in dependence on fossil fuels.

A recent poll shows that a majority of Americans support aggressive action on global warming. But smaller numbers back some of the specific policies or actions that might take.

As my research suggests, adopting a more comprehensive and logical process for making decisions could provide a way forward. This process helps communities identify their most important objectives first and then evaluate options according to those specific goals. It’s an approach that ensures that what’s most important – climate change, jobs and protecting ecosystems, for instance – gets addressed.

It could become handy the next time a state and a corporation tangle over whether or not to replace a big aging pipeline – even when this debate is less contentious than the one about Michigan’s Straits of Mackinac.

This article has been updated to correct the upper range of the estimated cost to replace the pipeline.


Joshua M. Pearce: Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and Electrical and Computer Engineering, Michigan Technological University

Thank you for the great summary of the mess that is oil and gas pipelines in the U.S. As you point out the potential damage from accidents can be substantial – e.g. the Kalamazoo River spill over $1 billion – where the costs exceeded the company’s insurance. This is a clear market failure – companies operating pipelines – should be forced to pay the FULL cost of insurance for the liabilities their technologies create. Even if the pipelines all work perfectly and their is not another accident the greenhouse gas emission liability makes these antiquated technologies uneconomic. https://www.academia.edu/19418589/A_Review_of_Greenhouse_Gas_Emission_Liabilities_as_the_Value_of_Renewable_Energy_for_Mitigating_Lawsuits_for_Climate_Change_Related_Damages

Neil S. Grigg, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Colorado State University

Thanks for a nice summary of the issue. I’ve developed a course on Pipeline Engineering and Hydraulics and include a brief discussion of these issues. Most of my focus is on water and wastewater pipelines. They add another 5 or so million miles of pipe to the national total. I was looking for a conclusion in your article and was left a little hanging, but I understand it’s hard to know where to go with the issue. Maybe there should be a national commission to study this problem, perhaps funded by a private source as the current administration would be unlikely to focus on it.

ODNR Hosts Hunt for Disabled Hunters at Zaleski State Forest

COLUMBUS, OH – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) hosted 20 disabled American veterans from Ohio for a guided archery hunt at Zaleski State Forest and Lake Hope State Park over the Oct. 5-7 weekend. The ODNR divisions of Forestry, Wildlife and Parks and Watercraft partnered with the Buckeye Hero Hunt Committee, the Ohio Department of Veterans Services and volunteer groups to provide this opportunity for Ohio’s veterans to hunt white-tailed deer. Twenty deer, 16 antlerless and four bucks, were harvested over the weekend.

“This is an opportunity that ODNR is honored to be able to provide as we thank and support the men and women who have served our country,” said Robert Boyles, Ohio’s state forester. “We are pleased to partner with the Buckeye Hero Hunt Committee for our Ohio veterans who have sacrificed so much for us.”

Numerous volunteers assisted the Buckeye Hero Hunt Committee to assist the veterans with their hunt and provide meals, lodging and equipment. Veterans applied to participate in the hunt, and the event was free for participating veterans.

The ODNR Division of Forestry works to promote the wise use and sustainable management of Ohio’s public and private woodlands. This hunt provided an opportunity to effectively manage the damage white-tailed deer cause to the forest ecosystem in a specific area of Zaleski State Forest. White-tailed deer can have substantial negative impacts on forest health and regeneration due to the browse of tree seedlings and herbaceous plants. Hunting is the most effective way to control deer populations, and the ODNR Division of Forestry is thrilled to create this great opportunity for veterans.

The ODNR Division of Forestry works to promote the wise use and sustainable management of Ohio’s public and private woodlands. To learn more about Ohio’s woodlands, visit forestry.ohiodnr.gov. Follow us on Instagram at @odnrforestry (instagram.com/odnrforestry).

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.


POWELL, Ohio – Enjoy all of the Halloween fun without the fright during the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s annual Boo at the Zoo celebration presented by Sierra Mist. This “merry-not-scary” event will transform the Zoo into a Halloween wonderland during the weekends of Oct. 19–21 and 26–28.

Boo at the Zoo will begin at 5 p.m. on Fridays and 10 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. The festivities will continue into the evening all weekend, closing at 9 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and 8 p.m. on Sundays.

This year, the Zoo offers more Halloween fun than ever before at this signature event. Boo at the Zoo attractions include:

– Marvel Superhero Meet and Greets with Spider-Man, Captain America, Black Panther and Black Widow around Conservation Lake**

– Columbus Zoo Character Ambassador “Meet and Treat” and Rolling Celebrations**

– Casper and Wendy meet and greets in the Asia Quest region**

– Hanna’s Hay Ride to and from the North America region

– Pumpkin Smash animal enrichment activities throughout the day

– Surfin’ Safari “HOWLOWEEN” live show**

– Zoo Boo Choo-Choo train rides* through Vertebrate Village and pony rides* in the North America region and Candy Corn Carousel rides on the 1914 Mangels/Illions Carousel*

– The Oak Ridge Halloween Hoedown in Polar Frontier

– Eeek-O-Friendly Seek-n-Find at My House at Habitat Hollow

– Sweet Stripe Stable Hay Maze located at the Tiger Shelter

– Spooky Diver Demonstrations in Discovery Reef in the Shores region

– Frogwortz Academy Open House and Wizardry Wand-O-Wand classes in the Asia Quest region

– “Happy Family 4-D” playing daily at the Shores Park 4-D Theater*

– Pumpkinpalooza located in the Asia Quest region, featuring “Best of Show” performances and storytime with Spookley the Square Pumpkin

– Candy stops located around the Zoo, including a Teal Pumpkin station in Asia Quest for a candy alternative

– And take one final journey into the Jurassic Period on the Dinosaur Island boat ride* before it closes for the season!

Whether it be special animal enrichment, live theater performances, animal demonstrations, superheroes, hayrides, wizardry lessons or candy stops, Boo at the Zoo offers fun for the whole family— all included with the price of regular Zoo admission or membership. Costumes are encouraged for this Halloween celebration; please visit the Zoo’s Calendar Page for more information about costume restrictions and requirements.

*Additional fees may apply.

**Show times and meet and greet schedules can be found on the Zoo’s calendar page and are weather-permitting.

About the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Home to more than 10,000 animals representing over 600 species from around the globe, the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium leads and inspires by connecting people and wildlife. The Zoo complex is a recreational and education destination that includes the 22-acre Zoombezi Bay water park and 18-hole Safari Golf Course. The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium also managesThe Wilds, a 10,000-acre conservation center and safari park located in southeastern Ohio. The Zoo is a regional attraction with global impact; annually contributing $4 million of privately raised funds to support conservation projects worldwide. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, the Columbus Zoo has earned Charity Navigator’s prestigious 4-star rating.

Dear EarthTalk: Do environmental factors influence fall foliage colors? – Bess Walker, Clinton, CT

From the Editors of E – The Environmental Magazine

An uptick in the intensity of hurricanes, prolonged periods of drought precipitating wildfires, flooded out coastal regions, melting ice caps—most of us can agree that man-made climate change is at least a contributing factor for these modern-day environmental maladies that seem to be compounding on top of one another in recent years. But another (less serious albeit still troubling) effect of our fossil fuel profligacy might just be compromised fall foliage displays.

The deciduous trees that drop their leaves in the fall rely on cues from the surrounding environment to signal when to stop producing chlorophyll (which turns the leaves green) in order to conserve energy and hunker down for the colder air temperatures of the upcoming winter. When the trees do get the signal, the chlorophyll begins to drain from the leaves, leaving behind carotenoids (in orange and yellow leaves) or anthocyanins (in red leaves) until the they fall to the ground.

But the unpredictability of a fast-changing climate has some species of trees confused about when to drop their leaves as warmer temperatures linger longer into the fall. Some trees are simply producing fewer leaves as a result, while others are thrown out of whack as to when to drop their leaves.

A 2016 study by Chinese researchers and published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Global Change Biology found trees changing color (“phenology”) later than in recorded history across 70 percent of the study area (the Northern Hemisphere), presumably due to warmer air temperatures pushing the process back.

Also, drought before and/or during the fall can drastically reduce the foliage show, given trees lack of resources to begin with. Researchers have found that during drought years, trees’ leaves tend to turn color early and peter out sooner, if they don’t skip the color show altogether and go straight to brown. Granted droughts come and go and cannot be pinned directly on global warming, no doubt climate change is increasing their prevalence and intensity.

And at a more macro level, the overall year-by-year warming trend is forcing many species north in search of the right temperature conditions for optimal growth. To wit, some of the stars of New England’s fall foliage show—such as sugar maples, yellow birches and others—are expected to shift their habitat north within the next few decades. Indeed, biologists warn that foliage fans might have to head north of the U.S./Canada border to see these colorful denizens of the autumnal forest by 2100. Meanwhile, other iconic foliage species—such as ashes, elms and oaks—are facing new threats from warming-induced insect outbreaks, with various troops of beetles and borers moving into new habitat with global warming clearing the way for them.

One way you can guarantee some kind of fall color display in your yard is to plant a variety of native plants and trees known to turn bright colors in the fall. If there is enough diversity among them, you’re sure to get some kind of show every year, even if every plant isn’t “turned on.”

CONTACTS: “Delayed autumn phenology in the Northern Hemisphere is related to change in both climate and spring phenology,” onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/gcb.13311.

News from The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi

The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi Inducts New Members

BATON ROUGE, LA (10/16/2018)— The following local residents were recently initiated into The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi, the nation’s oldest and most selective collegiate honor society for all academic disciplines.

  • Elizabeth Scott of Columbus (43235) was initiated at The Ohio State University.
  • Amanda Randhawa of Columbus (43235) was initiated at The Ohio State University.
  • John Sefel of Columbus (43235) was initiated at The Ohio State University.
  • Haozheng Li of Lewis Center (43035) was initiated at The Ohio State University.

These residents are among approximately 30,000 students, faculty, professional staff and alumni to be initiated into Phi Kappa Phi each year. Membership is by invitation only and requires nomination and approval by a chapter. Only the top 10 percent of seniors and 7.5 percent of juniors are eligible for membership. Graduate students in the top 10 percent of the number of candidates for graduate degrees may also qualify, as do faculty, professional staff and alumni who have achieved scholarly distinction.

Phi Kappa Phi was founded in 1897 under the leadership of undergraduate student Marcus L. Urann who had a desire to create a different kind of honor society: one that recognized excellence in all academic disciplines. Today, the Society has chapters on more than 300 campuses in the United States and the Philippines. Its mission is “To recognize and promote academic excellence in all fields of higher education and to engage the community of scholars in service to others.”

More About Phi Kappa Phi

Since its founding, more than 1.5 million members have been initiated into Phi Kappa Phi. Some of the organization’s notable members include former President Jimmy Carter, NASA astronaut Wendy Lawrence, novelist John Grisham and YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley. Each year, Phi Kappa Phi awards nearly $1 million to qualifying students and members through graduate and dissertation fellowships, undergraduate study abroad grants, funding for post-baccalaureate development, and grants for local, national and international literacy initiatives. For more information about Phi Kappa Phi, visit www.phikappaphi.org.

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