MID-MICHIGAN — Monday morning, brother and sister farmers Richard and Lisa Midlam chained themselves to an excavator to protest Michigan Gas Utilities putting a replacement line in.
"The issue is they want to put the new one in a different location instead of following the easement of the old one," Richard Midlam says. "There is the problem, because it takes an entire road frontage. Often the property, put seven houses in a great reduction of their property because nobody wants to live near a potential blast zone.”
According to the Midlams, the existing pipeline route is shorter, runs through an abandoned road and does not run past any homes, unlike the new route, which would affect their family farmland.
Lisa and Richard said they have reached out to MGU multiple times but haven't gotten a response prompting them to stay on the site as long as it takes
"We wanted to do the right thing, give them a choice, a chance," Lisa Midlam said. "Unfortunately, people do not email back. They do not call back. They do not treat a serious. We are the little people on the farm. They are the corporation that can do what the judge or what they think they want to do. That's what it comes down to."
They were chained the the excavator until they were served with a cease and desist order Wednesday night.
MGU spokesperson, Brendan Conway, tells me he was surprised by the claims made by the Midlam siblings. He says the current pipeline dates back to the 1950s and needs to be replaced.
"They're not going through any homes, is as far as, as I'm aware. There's not any homes that are underneath this easement," Conway said. "It's along the roadway. We have their information, we will continue to reach out, you know, again, we had reached out and spent more than a year working with them and trying to find a solution. They disengaged at one point many, many months ago, kind of tied our hands which is why the court process had to get involved all that ruling came out. And we've been moving forward with this project."
The Midlams and MGU are both working with attorneys with the hopes of meeting and coming to a resolution that works for both parties.
"Aside from what's happening today, our hope and our belief is that we can reach, you know, a resolution that works for everyone and just move forward to continue this important project," Conway said.
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