Nov 19, 2015
Building interstate natural gas pipelines will help farmers in Ohio and Michigan spend less on energy, fertilizer and pesticides, according to a report commissioned by a farm advocacy group.
The Ohio State Grange released the report Thursday. It was written by two economics professors at Hillsdale College in Michigan.
Energy accounts for 30 percent of farm production spending, and high energy prices coupled with a lack of energy choice are a problem for farmers, particularly in the Midwest, according to the report.
One of the most likely sources of potential cost savings is the expanded use of natural gas, according to the report.
Farmers can use natural gas to dry grain and fuel vehicles and equipment. Natural gas also is used to generate electricity and make pesticides and fertilizers. In fact, natural gas accounts for almost 70 percent of the cost of making fertilizer, according to the report.
Drilling in the Marcellus and Utica shales has tapped large reserves of cheap natural gas, but there aren’t enough pipelines to carry the gas to users.
Two interstate pipeline projects proposed for Ohio — NEXUS Gas Transmission and ET Rover — would pass through Stark County if approved by federal regulators.
“In our estimation, projects such as Rover and NEXUS would be in the interest of agriculture,” said Charles N. Steele, one of the report’s authors.
In addition to cheaper energy, the report notes natural gas is a cleaner fuel than oil, coal, diesel or gasoline, and that pipelines are the safest and cheapest way to ship natural gas.
“It is my belief from observation that the expansion of pipelines can be of great benefit to our farming community,” said Robert White, president of the Ohio State Grange.
But the pipelines are facing resistance from landowners, including some farmers, in their paths.
For example, the Wayne County Farm Bureau and Wayne County commissioners say construction of the Rover pipeline will hurt farms by damaging topsoil and water sources, and are urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to reject the project. Wayne has the third-largest agricultural economy in the state.
Reach Shane at 330-580-8338 or firstname.lastname@example.org.