Sen. Roth looks to revive dormant gas pipeline linking Green Bay to Indiana


A Wisconsin senator wants to create a consortium of private investors to rebuild a dormant gas pipeline. The West Shore Pipeline used to transport fuel from northern Indiana to Green Bay.

Rebuilding the 650-mile pipeline could cost up to $300 million, but Sen. Roger Roth, R-Appleton, says his role would be that of a "facilitator."

Built in the early 1960s, the line was shut down in June 2016 after a 2012 leak in the village of Jackson in Washington County. The spill contaminated dozens of private wells along with portions of Cedar Creek and the Jackson Marsh.

The owners of the pipeline did repairs, but decided maintaining the line wasn't worth the expense.

Now, gas coming to Green Bay arrives by tanker truck or ship, which Roth says drives the price of gas up by about 5 cents a gallon. Roth said he wants to put a group of private investors to rebuild the line at an estimated cost of between $200 million and $300 million.

Roth said no tax money would be involved.

"In no way, shape, or form is this to get state tax dollars allocated to this pipeline," Roth said. He said the private sector would make the investment. "There has got to be a way that we can work together to bring the stakeholders together to get this done, which doesn’t include relying on the taxpayers in Wisconsin."

Parts of the pipeline ran through northeastern Wisconsin’s karst region, which has porous rocks and shallow groundwater. Many wells in the area have been contaminated by manure runoff from large farms.

The nonprofit Milwaukee Riverkeepers studied the 2012 gas spill and has concerns about reopening the line, said Cheryl Nenn, a biologist with the nonprofit. 

Nenn said technology has improved in the 50-plus years since the line was built, but if the project moves forward, its path should be changed.

"Not in the same location as before because a lot of the locations (have) dolomite, and given the rock layers, they weren’t able to bury the pipe very deep," Nenn said of the previous line's route.

Nenn also questioned spending millions of dollars so drivers can save 5 cents a gallon.

Roth said not having a pipeline could be hazardous in the event of bad weather that could impede trucks or ships making deliveries.