FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(Grand Rapids, OH) Five Ohio grassroots and environmental organizations warned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today that pipeline companies may be violating federal law in their dealings with property owners along the routes of two major gas pipeline projects.
Five groups – Neighbors Against Nexus (NAN), of Swanton, Ohio; Concerned Ciizens of Medina County, Ohio (CCMC); Food and Water Watch (FWW) of Cincinnati; Buckeye Forest Council (BFC), Columbus; Freshwater Accountability Project (FWAP), of Grand Rapids – cautioned FERC Chair Kimberly Bose by letter dated January 27, 2015 that representatives of the companies planning the E.T Rover and Spectra-Nexus pipelines were using “bullying” tactics to force property owners to give permission for construction of pipelines across their property on the roughly 250-mile proposed routes. Both Rover and Nexus would transport gas derived from hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) from southeastern Ohio, moving it northwesterly across Ohio, arcing north of Detroit, and ultimately delivering it to a pipeline hub near Sarnia, Ontario.
The Rover pipeline, a venture by Energy Transfer of Texas, and Nexus, sponsored by Spectra Energy, also of Texas, will transport gas via 42” diameter high pressure pipelines. Rover proposes twin 42” lines. These are two of three large pipeline projects seeking to connect Ohio Utica and Marcellus shale production to lucrative overseas markets. Neither company has triggered formal FERC reviews yet.
According to the citizen groups, agents for Energy Transfer and Spectra aggressively seek out property owners residing within the 600-foot-wide planning areas for the routes, tell them that the pipeline proposals are a “done deal” (i.e., that FERC approval is certain) and threaten to sue for eminent domain if owners refuse to quickly negotiate easements for pipeline construction. Some owners in the proposed corridors are refusing to negotiate, but others are giving up. The grassroots groups accuse FERC of allowing the companies to lock in to specific routes by improperly threatening the use of eminent domain, a power they cannot be granted without completing the formal process to get a federal (FERC) certificate of convenience and necessity.
Terry Lodge, Toledo attorney for FWAP and author of the letter, said, “FERC’s written policies signal pipeline companies that they can intimidate homeowners and force faster approval of the permitting at FERC. The companies are exploiting that opening. These high pressure pipelines are the corporations’ way to more lucrative markets overseas for fracked gas. But eminent domain isn’t appropriate for lines for overseas shipments. We oppose the corruption of the concept of public necessity by corporations who seek to use it for their private gain at the public’s expense.”
“The Nexus pipeline will literally gouge out my front yard and destroy trees only a few feet from my home,” said Liz Victor of NAN. “No government safety setbacks exist. Other pipeline incidents have incinerated homes, people, buildings thousands of feet from the pipeline explosion. The people directly on the pipeline route have had no voice in the process and their questions have gone unanswered. The pipeline are not for the benefit of anyone whose property is in their path, they’re purely cash cows for the corporations.”
According to Kathie Jones of CCMC, property owners in Medina County are upset because Spectra has continuously rejected requests since 2013 to disclose the Nexus pipeline details to residents and local government officials at a public community meeting. “The proposed Nexus pipeline is causing a lot of grief and grave concern. It will affect homeowners’ lifetime investment even as it threatens their health and safety, and that of their children. For some, the pipeline would be built no more than 50 feet from their homes, or under barns, ponds and through homes. The owner of Maple Land Farms is devastated because Nexus would destroy property which has been in her family for 130 years. Her farm has many maple trees which provide syrup, and they provide nature trails for naturalists and artists. No matter what Spectra pays her, she will never be able to recover her losses with a permanent, unbuildable 100′ or 200′ swath through her woods.”
“Pipelines represent all that’s wrong with increasing U.S. oil and gas production,” maintains Heather Cantino, vice-chair of BFC. “Nexus and Rover will enable the fossil fuel industry to export and profit at the expense of hastening irremediable climate change from more fossil fuel use. This is a time when we must be reducing, rather than expanding, CO2 and methane emissions. These lines will add to already unmanageable methane emissions from leaky infrastructure and will induce more fracking. This means inevitable spills of toxic-laden fuel, which means increased threats to public drinking water systems and ecosystems.”
FWW’s field director Alison Auciello notes, “The perpetual threat of living next to a high pressure pipeline full of radioactive fracked gas is unnerving to say the least. There could be no peaceful co-existence, knowing such a perpetual threat is there. The last I checked, we have civil and property rights. We challenge FERC to rule that there is no public necessity for pipelines solely intended for corporate profit.”
A copy of the demand letter can be found at: https://fwap.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/FERC-Demand-Letter.pdf
Image credit: Jon Strong via Cleveland.com