NEXUS on hold as lawsuit plays out

Lawyers argue no safety analysis exists for pipeline route

By Laurie Hamame -

No agency has properly examined the NEXUS pipeline route to make sure it is safe for nearby residents, shoppers, students, and park-goers.

That argument comes in a July 19 filing by the plaintiffs of a lawsuit — including the city of Oberlin — against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The 255-mile-long gas transmission line is planned to travel from eastern Ohio through Lorain County on its way to Canadian markets.

Lawyers for the cities in its path say there are several legal and constitutional problems.

First, no international export application has been filed for the NEXUS project as required under the Natural Gas Act.

Second, the lawyers contend FERC is resting its laurels on the fact the Department of Transportation has raised no safety red flags on the project.

A filing by the city’s attorneys in U.S. District Court in Cleveland said DOT is expressly barred under law from weighing in on pipeline siting safety.

By relying on DOT for safety advice, “FERC has ensured that no safety analysis has been performed regarding this specific pipeline and its route,” the court document said.

Pipeline safety is a growing concern for Oberlin residents, said John Elder of Communities for Safe and Sustainable Energy, who pointed to problems with other projects.

Energy Transfer Partners, a United States pipeline company known for building the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline, recently rushed to complete the 713-mile Rover Pipeline.

The route travels through West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Ohio to an interconnection in Defiance. It then crosses into Michigan where it will end in Livingston County.

Elder said developers rushed to complete the project, causing several accidents along the pipeline. They reported 18 leaks and spilled more than two million gallons of drilling materials, he said.

These mistakes demonstrate the risks in pipeline development and give the public more reason to be concerned about NEXUS, said Elder.

He said there have been protests pressuring reform of FERC, which reviews and approves interstate oil and gas pipeline projects.

FERC has been without a quorum since Feb. 3 and with its lack of members can’t deny or approve requests for pipeline construction.

President Donald Trump’s administration nominated two new members for the commission, potentially clearing the way for the controversial, multi-billion-dollar pipeline.

No nominees have been confirmed yet, though not for lack of trying. The Senate tried to push through FERC nominees just before the Independence Day holiday to fully staff the board, according to court documents.

Laurie Hamame can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @HamameNews on Twitter.

Lawyers argue no safety analysis exists for pipeline route

By Laurie Hamame