The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has granted NEXUS Gas Transmission a water-quality certificate.
NEXUS needed the certificate before it could start building its $2.1 billion, 36-inch diameter natural gas pipeline that will start in Columbiana County and pass through about a dozen counties, including Medina and Lorain, before heading into Michigan and a hub in Canada.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the pipeline late last month but has yet to sign off on the construction plans.
Over several months, the Ohio EPA considered technical, economic, social and environmental aspects of the project; held an information session and public hearing on the application; and received and reviewed public input throughout an initial and extended comment period before granting the certificate Tuesday, according to a news release from the Ohio EPA.
York Township resident Paul Gierosky, a member of the Coalition to Re-route NEXUS, or CORN, said the ruling was a “foregone conclusion.”
“This is something controlled at the state level,” he said. “We’ve had no support from our governor (John Kasich) on this. We expected this outcome.”
Gierosky said CORN will file a request for a rehearing on the FERC docket today.
“It’s part of the administrative process,” he said. “A rehearing is asking for a review of the order granting the certificate. What we’re alleging is that the final Environmental Impact Statement is deficient.
“In addition, we’re alleging FERC has ignored various other pleadings by other property owners that were filed on the FERC docket. FERC has ignored our pleadings. It has ignored the things we brought to the floor.”
Judging from past proceedings, Gierosky said FERC will ignore this request.
“They are judge, jury and execution,” he said. “They will give the company a notice to proceed to build the darn thing.”
If that happens, Gierosky said CORN will file a complaint in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati to address the notice to proceed without granting the organization’s request for a rehearing.
“We’re looking for a judge to hold FERC accountable to following the law,” Gierosky said. “In our complaint, they are not following law.”
There is still a case, filed May 12, pending before Judge John Adams in Federal Court of the Northern District of Ohio in Akron to stop the pipeline. A magistrate, however, has recommended the judge deny the request from more than 60 landowners in Medina, Summit and Stark counties to stop the NEXUS pipeline.
Although the project may result in a change from existing water-quality conditions, the changes cannot violate Ohio’s water-quality standards that protect human health and the environment, according to the Ohio EPA.
In addition, Ohio EPA is requiring NEXUS to have and implement detailed contingency plans for managing unanticipated releases to the environment, such as inadvertent returns (the unintended transfer of drilling mud to the surface), and a stormwater pollution-prevention plan to manage possible stormwater-related impacts to the environment.
NEXUS, first proposed in August 2014, is a business partnership of Spectra Energy, based in Houston, and DTE Energy, based in Detroit. Spectra is owned by Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge Inc. of Canada.
Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or firstname.lastname@example.org.