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E-M:/ MPSC takes up Jordan Valley Proposal

Enviro-Mich message from Michigan Land Use Institute <mlui@traverse.com>

For Immediate Release									July 11, 1997
For more information call:
	Hans Voss or Keith Schneider , Michigan Land Use Institute —  616-882-4723
	John Richter, Friends of the Jordan River Watershed — 616-536-3132


 Lansing — Two months after the Departments of natural Rewsources and
Environmental Quality rejected Walter Zaremba’s proposal to drill the first
natural gas well in the protected Jordan River Valley, the Elmira business
man has taken his case to the Michigan Public Service Commission.
	On Tuesday, July 15, Mr. Zaremba will ask the MPSC to override its two
sister agencies and condemn two miles of publicly owned forest land for a
private pipeline.  The hearing starts at 9:00 am at 6545 Mercantile Way,
Suite 7, Lansing, Michigan.
	Mr. Zaremba asserts that the proposed pipeline should be considered a
"public utility," which he claims would give him the authority to take
control of public land through the power of eminent domain.
	The DNR, meanwhile, will urge the MPSC to deny the application, arguing
that Mr. Zaremba’s pipeline is a private business enterprise, not a
utility.  The DNR is joined in its opposition by the Michigan Land Use
Institute, Friends of the Jordan River Watershed, and local government.
The Antrim County Board of Commissioners on July 10 unanimously adopted a
resolution opposing the pipeline and also called on the MPSC to deny the
pipeline application. 
	"It’s an obvious attempt to use public land for private purposes," said
John Hummer, Program Director of Friends of the Jordan River Watershed. "A
private party cannot force the State of Michigan to allow development on
public land. We are confident that as the facts are revealed in this case
the Commissioners of the Public Service Commission will realize what is at
stake and deny this application."
	The opposing parties argue that the MPSC should deny the Mr. Zaremba’s
application because:
1). The certificate that would confer "public utility" status on Mr.
Zaremba’s project is used solely for major gas transmission lines. The
privately owned 4-inch gathering line that Mr. Zaremba has proposed would
run from a single Antrim well to a compressing station and does not fall
within the Commission’s jurisdiction. 
2). Mr. Zaremba has sought designation from the MPSC to be classified as a
"common carrier," which under MPSC rules requires that he make his pipeline
available for transporting the gas of other producers. Mr. Zaremba’s
proposed well site is surrounded by miles of state-owned land which never
will be drilled. He is the only one that will ever transport gas if the
proposed line is built. 
3). Michigan courts have ruled that a MPSC certificate cannot be granted to
a private party engaged in purely private enterprise that will not serve
the public convenience and necessity. The public interest is not served by
building a pipeline across two miles of environmentally sensitive state
forest land to transport gas from a single Antrim gas well. 
4). The DNR has the final authority to determine actions on state land.
According to the Michigan Natural Resources and Environmental Protection
Act, anybody who wishes to lay a pipeline across publicly owned land must,
obtain an easement "upon terms and conditions the Department determines
just and reasonable."

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