Hold pipeline firms to their promises

Many West Virginians and Ohioans oppose construction of the long-distance pipelines needed to carry natural gas from our region to markets. Without that infrastructure, our gas has only limited value and the rest of the nation would be deprived of its benefits.

Profits from selling the gas are not worth the environmental damage pipelines will cause, insist their critics.

Energy companies counter that they work hard to protect the environment. Federal and state agencies police them.

Now, however the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency is suing the company responsible for the Rover Pipeline project, much of which passes through our areas of Ohio and West Virginia. The 713-mile, $4.2 billion line is expected to be completed by the end of the first quarter of 2018.

OEPA officials say that in 10 of the 18 Ohio counties through which the Rover Pipeline passes, the project damaged the environment. In one area, a protected wetland was damaged when drilling mud was pumped into it, according to the agency’s lawsuit.

Officials of Energy Transfer Partners, the Dallas company behind the Rover endeavor, told The Associated Press they are disappointed the OEPA filed a lawsuit. They maintain they have been working with state officials to resolve complaints about the pipeline.

The issue must be resolved to the OEPA’s satisfaction — one way or another.

Two other major projects, the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines, appear to have cleared most regulatory obstacles. Both will cut through many counties in West Virginia. The same types of environmental assurances heard regarding the Rover project have been made from companies behind the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast lines.

Environmental regulators in West Virginia should tolerate no trashing of the environment by pipeline companies, large or small. If the companies do not keep their promises, state officials should not hesitate to come down hard on them. Perhaps the OEPA action will make it clear that failure to safeguard the environment will carry with it a stiff price.

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