The clock is ticking for opponents of the Nexus pipeline and compressor station

SWANTON, Oh (WTVG) - It wasn't the public meeting many were expecting.

"My reasoning is, they did it to silence people," Stacy Owen, who opposes the compressor station said.

Instead of waiting to speak in front of a panel and the crowd, people sat in the Swanton High School cafeteria for their number to be called so they could give a testimony, in a private room, to a court reporter.

"I think it robs the community of being able to hear what their neighbors have to say," Deb Swingholm, who's opposed to pipeline said.

Members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission say the format was used to ensure that everyone had a chance to voice their opinion.

"What we've found is when we have two court reporters in a room, that allows for more people to give comments," Maggie Suter, the Intergovernmental Affairs Coordinator for FERC said.

It was very clear, Wednesday evening, that many people didn't want a pipeline or compressor anywhere near their homes or community.

"This pipeline is dangerously close to homes and schools and it cuts through the heart of our Oak Openings region," Swingholm said.

"With that compressor station, you are talking about the emissions, methane, benzene, all that stuff that over time is going to have a huge impact on the health of the residents we have," Owen said.

As it stands now, the proposed pipeline starts in eastern Ohio, goes across the state and then north through Michigan.

With it, comes a 26,000 horsepower compressor station set to be built off of Moosman road near 24 in Waterville.

Federal regulators maintain that it is safe and will have minimal impact. Many aren't convinced.

"There's a better way to do this," Swingholm argued. "There's a better route and I'm here to save our land and our water and our families and our farmers."

But there are others, like Jimmy Stewart. Stewart is the president of the Ohio Gas Association. He says he's lived near a pipeline for years and never had an issue.

He applauds Nexus for doing their due diligence and says, "pipelines, like it or not, are the safest and most energy efficient means of moving natural gas."

As for the opposition, time isn't on their side.

"It's now or never," says Owen. August 29th is the cut-off date for written public input from the community.

But that doesn't mean their ready to throw in the towel.

"We will fight until there is no more fight to be had."

FERC says it will take all of the public comments, review them and then put out a final environmental impact statement. From there, it will need official approval before any conversations about construction will begin.