Neighbors want to reroute NEXUS pipeline — and county governmentWritten by Don Lee | | email@example.com
Opponents of the NEXUS natural gas pipeline are closer to their goal of rerouting it away from their homes and businesses — and they’re getting ready to reroute Fulton County government to finish the job.
Neighbors in and around Swancreek Township in eastern Fulton County learned March 30 that an opposition group would be ready to submit a reroute of the pipeline’s proposed path through the county within a couple weeks to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
This was at the same meeting — an informational session at the Nazarene Church in Swanton, put on by the Coalition to Reroute NEXUS (CORN) — neighbors learned of a proposal to turn Fulton County’s government into a charter government, one which would have the power to make laws, including restrictions on pipelines.
The northwest Ohio chapter CORN, which started out as a local group formed to oppose the pipeline’s route through Swancreek Township, is now part of a grassroots group that stretches along the entire 240-mile route of the proposed pipeline. It’s attracted support of local governments and environmental groups.
One of those supporters is the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, which is backing CORN’s attempt to get a charter government put on the November 2015 ballot in Fulton County.
That move, according to the fund’s Lisa Kochheiser, would allow county government to make binding laws instead of resolutions and regulations — in effect, making it a home rule county.
At present, there are two charter counties among Ohio’s 88 counties — Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland, and Summit County, which includes Akron. Summit was the first county government to oppose the pipeline; Wood County commissioners recently approved a resolution against it.
Terry Lodge, a Toledo lawyer advising CORN and other pipeline opponents, said the charter would have to be in place before FERC approves the NEXUS pipeline, because any laws the county could approve under its new authority could not be retroactive. That decision is about a year away.
That means a petition with 1,100 valid county voters’ signatures would have to be accepted by the county board of elections by the petition deadline of June 24 to get on the November ballot, he said.
Meanwhile, pipeline opponents cheered at the news FERC had ordered NEXUS to examine and comment on a re-route proposed by the city of Green, Ohio, near Akron, which routed the pipeline south and west, away from the more densely populated parts of the county, before rejoining the original NEXUS proposed route in Lorain County, about halfway between Sandusky and Cleveland. However, the Green proposal also suggests the NEXUS line turn to run along the proposed route of another pipeline, the Rover, which would run from southeast Ohio west to Defiance, then turn north through western Fulton County and on into Michigan.
CORN has proposed the NEXUS line follow the Rover route anyway, as it would go through less-populated areas and form a “utility corridor,” making pipelines easier to monitor.
Meanwhile, the northwest Ohio CORN chapter is working on its own proposed reroute of the NEXUS line, which would take the pipeline south and west of the planned route and away from the environmentally sensitive Oak Openings region and the Maumee State Forest.
“We’re right on the heels” of the Green city proposal, said CORN’s Northwest Ohio organizer, Liz Athaide-Victor of Swancreek Township. She said the western Ohio reroute proposal should be filed with FERC in “a couple of weeks.”
NEXUS is proposed as a 42-inch pipeline (since amended to 36 inches) carrying natural gas under pressure 240 miles from the Marcellus and Utica shale-gas fields to join a pipeline network in southeast Michigan, which itself joins a natural gas hub in Canada. Despite promises of local jobs as a result of the pipeline, none of the gas from NEXUS is slated for local use, though the pipeline’s backers say that’s an option for industrial customers.
NEXUS is backed by Spectra Energy and DTE, the former Detroit Edison utility.
Meanwhile, the local CORN chapter is gearing up to fight another proposed pipeline, Kinder-Morgan, which is proposed to run north through eastern Fulton County with two 12-inch pipes carrying ethane and gasoline.