Elder: NEXUS would violate Oberlin’s Bill of Rights

Staff Report

When it comes to fracking, the will of Oberlin voters should trump the business interests of Spectra Energy, one local group has argued.

Communities for Safe and Sustainable Energy opposes the NEXUS gas transmission pipeline Spectra intends to build through Lorain County, passing through Oberlin’s boundaries on its way from eastern Ohio’s natural gas fields to markets in the Midwest and Canada.

In a March 29 letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which is reviewing Spectra’s application to build, CSSE president John Elder argued that the city has banned infrastructure for fracked gas.

Oberlin’s Community Bill of Rights and Obligations was adopted by more than 70 percent of voters in November 2013.

It “bans the corporate extraction of gas and oil within the city of Oberlin, along with associated activities, because that extraction and those activities cannot be achieved without violating the rights of the people, environment, and communities by endangering their health, safety, and welfare.”

But the Bill of Rights goes a step further, banning oil and gas activities within a 20-mile radius of Oberlin where it might threaten to pollute the city’s domestic water supply.

Whether the Bill of Rights supersedes federal law or would stand up in court has yet to be tested.

Spectra has dismissed the measure, saying only federal rules apply to its pipeline.

Elder said the Oberlin ordinance was drafted and petitions were signed to place it on the ballot “long before any public notice was made of the possibility of NEXUS.”

The group has called on FERC to deny Spectra’s application, saying NEXUS will have a negative impact and poses potential harm — but also because Spectra has failed to demonstrate the pipeline is needed.

Of the more than 700 entities that have forwarded comments to the energy commission on the proposed NEXUS route, nearly all are against it, Elder noted.

Staff Report