March underscores NEXUS problems

To the editor:

Last Sunday, thousands participated in a “March for a Clean Energy Revolution” in Philadelphia’s nearly 100 degree heat. Their goal: to take demands to the Democratic National Convention, beginning with “a ban on fracking and other unconventional extreme fossil fuel extraction methods” and “a halt to the rapid and reckless expansion of fossil fuel infrastructure including gas and oil pipelines.”

The march underlined the conclusion of a report issued last Friday that shows that if 19 proposed gas lines are built from the shale fields of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia, our nation will be locked into so much gas-fired electric generation – as opposed to renewably-generated – that there is no way the U.S. could meet its emission-reduction targets under the Paris climate agreement. The report recommends that Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and other agencies weigh the climate change impacts of new infrastructure before approving projects.

As Robert Howarth, professor of ecology and environmental biology at Cornell University, said on the eve of the march, “The truth is that there’s no way to transition to clean energy when we’re building infrastructure to burn gas.”

On May 20, the city of Oberlin filed another motion with FERC in opposition to the proposed Spectra/DTE NEXUS pipeline. The city added the arguments that the pipeline lacks a customer base, any need is obviated by other pipelines, the proposed return on equity is excessive, all the existing wells in the vicinity of the pipeline have not been identified, and the pipeline’s safety – “the city’s fire department is located in the project’s evacuation zone” – must be re-evaluated in light of the recent explosion of a Spectra pipeline in Pennsylvania.

Nevertheless, on July 8 FERC’s Draft Environmental Impact Statement basically gave a go-ahead to NEXUS, although the developers are required to make a multitude of minor adjustments, including moving NEXUS away from the backyards of homes on Reserve Avenue but much closer to Splash Zone and the fire station!

Oberlin’s far-sighted voters passed an ordinance prohibiting fracked gas infrastructure. The city will need to stand firm in saying absolutely no to NEXUS.

John D. Elder