Ohio State to study the impacts of underground pipelines on crop yields

The energy infrastructure across the United States is changing and Ohio is becoming a major component of the redirection of the plumbing of the energy system in the country.

“Ohio has always been an importer of energy and now Ohio is energy independent and is even an exporter,” said Allen Fore, Vice President of Public Affairs with Kinder Morgan. “That means billions of dollars of investment coming into the state in the form of direct investment in projects as well as indirect benefits of the support industries around those projects.”

Many industries, including the energy sector, are wondering how a new Trump Administration’s regulatory policies will affect how they do business.

“What companies are looking for is a regulatory process that is consistent and with that consistency companies will continue to invest,” Fore said. “The Trump Administration certainly has given indications early on that it wants that consistency.”

One of the major projects currently in the works is the Utopia Pipeline, a system that will be about 240 miles long and will stretch from southeast Ohio to northwest Ohio, a major portion of the state’s rural community.

Ohio is no stranger to Kinder Morgan pipelines, as some have been in place for over 50 years spanning underneath Ohio’s productive crop ground. Throughout the decades, no one has evaluated the impacts of those pipelines on crop yields. Those details will get some attention soon with a new study in the works at The Ohio State University.

The study, to be overseen by the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, focuses on soil disturbance caused by statewide pipeline installations.

“This study, which we have supplied major funding for, will be conducted over a period of three years and will be the most comprehensive study done in the country on this issue,” Fore said. “We think this study will affirm that there is no adverse impact of our pipelines to crop yields, but the study will also potentially help us look for ways that will improve the process.”

The college will survey and take samples from 50 fields statewide, predominantly in rural areas. Samples will be taken before and after pipeline installation.

This study is of particular interest to Kinder Morgan, the Houston-based corporation which owns or operates 84,000 pipelines and is the largest energy infrastructure company in North America.

The end result will be a study that will highlight the best practices used in pipeline construction on agricultural lands.

As for the progress of the Utopia Pipeline, Kinder Morgan continues the process of finalizing permits at the local, state and federal levels. Individual landowner consultations also move forward as tweaks and adjustments are made to the pipeline route.

Construction activity is slated to begin in early 2017 with the goal to begin service through the pipeline in 2018.

AUDIO: Listen to The Ohio Ag Net’s Ty Higgins and Kinder Morgan’s Allen Fore discuss Ohio’s energy sector, the impacts of new energy investments in Ohio and the new Ohio State study on the impacts of pipelines to crop yields.

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  1. There are many landowners that can tell OSU already what effect tearing up the ground 5 ft deep has on crops. More than one new-home builder can attest to the struggle to make anything grow next to his/her new home foundation. Both have identical problems. Deep excavations are very detrimental to soil structure and fertility. It takes two or more years to convert land from conventional till to no-till in our ground and that only affects the top layer of soil. The USDA is supposedly protecting our farmland and they do this by allowing people who don’t even own the land to excavate deep trenches and not for the purpose of planting crops

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