Feds approve NEXUS Pipeline; Opposers vow to fight on

Published: Aug. 26, 2017 at 10:51 PM EDT
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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC, for short, released its decision Friday, August 26, at 5:21 p.m. Most offices closed for the week by that point. Soon drilling will begin in nine of our local counties.

“We are very disappointed in their decision,” Cheryl Johncox said. She’s with the national Sierra Club, working out of Columbus.

“It’s always kind of a gut punch when they take another step and you haven't been able to stop them,” Deb Swingholm said. She’s part of the Green Pipeline Initiative.

“If we can somehow convince the EPA and they don't issue that certificate, that's a way to stop this pipeline,” Swingholm said.

Now Cheryl Johncox from the Sierra Club thinks the only real shot is through the EPA.

“The 401 wetlands and streams permit,” Johncox said. “So it allows them to tunnel underneath our rivers and bury wetlands essentially, you know, fill them in.”

Many of the nearly 200 concerns FERC addressed yesterday are local. FERC says there's no proof that property values will be hurt by drilling.

“I think you're going to see reduced property values. And we know for a fact that a lot of the studies that are cited, are paid for by the oil and gas industry,” Swingholm said.

There’s been concern and meetings about the safety of Bowling Green's water treatment plant, as the NEXUS pipeline will be drilled nearby, under the Maumee River. But FERC says, not to worry. It will actually be drilled a third of a mile downstream. Cheryl is not convinced.

“You can say, you know, it's not going to be a bad problem all you want, until it is,” Johncox said.

She’s talking about damage from the Rover Pipeline in eastern Ohio. But that was a different company.

“Enbridge is the company that is building the NEXUS pipeline, and they've had over 800 spills in the last ten years,” Johncox claims.

Enbridge sent us a statement saying construction should start next year and will create more than 3,300 jobs in Ohio and Michigan. You can read their entire statement below

“This isn't just a localized problem. This is going to be everybody's problem,” Johncox said.

Here is the statement, in-full, from Enbridge:

August 25, 2017--Nexus Gas Transmission, LLC, a joint venture of DTE Energy and Spectra Energy Partners, LP, an Enbridge company, received a certificate of public convenience and necessity from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to construct and operate the NEXUS interstate natural gas pipeline project. This approval authorizes NEXUS, subject to certain conditions, to proceed with final preparations to commence construction to meet an in-service date in 2018. We plan to provide an updated in service date once we review the certificate order and construction plans.

Once complete, the approximately 255-mile pipeline would have the capacity to deliver approximately 1.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day to markets in Ohio, Michigan and Ontario.

“NEXUS will provide a critically-needed source of domestic, clean-burning, affordable natural gas to Ohio, Michigan and Ontario to meet the growing demand for natural gas-fired generation, the cleanest and most versatile fuel for powering the region’s homes and businesses,” said Jim Grech, president of NEXUS Gas Transmission. “Over the past three years, NEXUS has engaged with stakeholders, local community officials, and federal and state agencies to locate and design a pipeline system that will be built and operated safely and efficiently. Receiving this stamp of approval is a testament to our strong history of consultation and successful project execution. We are very pleased to reach this significant milestone and move one step closer to construction of the pipeline, which will diversify the region’s energy sources and generate significant economic benefits for local communities.”

NEXUS will also create substantial economic benefits in the region by providing thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in income to the regional economy. As detailed in the FEIS, construction of the project is estimated to require a total peak workforce of 3,360 construction workers with 2,770 in Ohio and 590 in Michigan. Total payroll would be about $668 million during the construction phase and $3.1 million during operation of the project. The estimated ad valorem tax associated with the project is $2.1 billion in the first 60 years of service, with about $1.9 billion distributed in Ohio and about $200 million in Michigan.