Attorneys continue to fight NEXUS line

By Laurie Hamame -

The battle over the NEXUS pipeline is not over, event though the pipeline’s developers received permission Oct. 11 from Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to begin construction.

City council voted Oct. 16 to extend Oberlin’s retention of attorney Carolyn Elefant, who has been arguing the case against the gas line.

Elefant filed a lawsuit last month in U.S. District Court challenging the constitutionality of the use of eminent domain by two other major FERC-approved pipelines, arguing that they do not serve a public use.

The suit, filed on behalf of more than 55 landowners and the organization Bold Alliance, contends that eminent domain provisions of the Natural Gas Act violate Fifth Amendment protections.

As planned, the proposed 36-inch, 250-mile pipeline will stretch through Ohio, passing within 95 feet of homes on Reserve Avenue in Oberlin. Opponents argue it poses a blast risk to the Lorain County Metro Parks Splash Zone, Oberlin fire station, and Welcome Nursing Home.

A Community Bill of Rights passed in 2013 by 70.5 percent of Oberlin voters banned all “fracking” infrastructure, including transmission lines, from the city limits and surrounding watershed.

Citizens for Safe and Sustainable Energy has been working alongside the city in submitting testimony to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The group argues that NEXUS is not economically viable, is intended to export gas out of the U.S., will harm the environment, does not serve a public use, and, in Oberlin’s case, violates a city ordinance.

Another Ohio group, the Coalition to Re-Route NEXUS, submitted a similar request for a FERC rehearing; and Akron attorney David Mucklow filed a lawsuit on behalf of 64 landowners that included the same constitutional argument in regard to eminent domain.

John Elder, vice president of Citizens for Safe and Sustainable Energy, commended Elefant for having filed a “superb” request for a rehearing of FERC’s issuance of a permit to NEXUS.

“Her filing covered all of the points well, states the city’s case well, and I really appreciate her work,” he said.

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

By Laurie Hamame