(Grand Rapids, OH) When FreshWater Accountability Project (FWAP) petitioned to intervene in the reversal of the Rockies Express Pipeline (REX) in Southeast Ohio to carry fracked gas South and West to markets rather than its original route to the East, REX made a surprising move to block FWAP’s participation in the process. FWAP was alerted about the original REX proposal by Allegheny Defense Project (ADP) and decided it would be in the best interests of its constituents in Southeast Ohio to intervene. FWAP petitioned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in a filing last week, which was immediately opposed by REX.

Ryan Talbott of ADP, which also intervened in the project to protect Pennsylvanian’s environmental interests, found this to be an unusual move by an energy company. “FERC often allows interventions in its proceedings before it makes a final decision,” Talbott said. “Here, even though FERC has not made a final decision on this project, REX is aggressively opposing FWAP’s right to participate on behalf of the people and environment of Ohio. I think it demonstrates that the gas industry is uncomfortable with having their plans closely scrutinized by the public.”

The participation of the grassroots organizations in the FERC process is largely due to the fact that many such pipeline projects will have a detrimental long-term impact by inducing more fracking in the Marcellus and Utica shalefields. Permitting pipeline companies’ plans through rubber stamping by regulatory agencies without meaningful consideration of the public’s concerns encourages the deployment of unconventional shale drilling, which threatens freshwater supplies, contaminates the air and exacerbates the serious problem of global climate change.

“Not only did REX oppose our original petition to intervene in the permitting process, but when we filed our response, REX immediately moved to dismiss our concerns with FERC a second time,” stated Lea Harper, Managing Director of FWAP. “We worked very hard with no paid staff and limited resources to intervene and then respond to REX’s opposition to our participation in the decision-making process. FERC received our response on Monday, February 1, and REX filed yet another motion to FERC to eliminate us from the process that very same day. This just shows how large companies try to leverage their legal staff and large resources to squash public participation and influence the permitting process to their advantage.”

ADP and FWAP believe that FERC should allow FWAP to intervene on behalf of property owners and others affected in Southeast Ohio to protect the best interests of the local communities. For now, it is left to FERC to make the decision. “I would hope that we wouldn’t have to continue to fight such an uphill battle to have our concerns considered by the regulatory agency,” stated Harper. “Because there is such a huge proliferation of new pipelines, compressor stations and moves to reverse pipelines or even ship different material in them, exploiting the permanent right-of-ways and threatening forests and ecosystems by clearcutting in Ohio, it is important to have an equal opportunity to have our legitimate concerns adequately heard. We know that much of this fracked gas is being transported by pipelines out of Ohio. It’s not for our use. Property is being devalued and lives are being disrupted for corporate profit. We believe that FERC will make the right decision and allow us to participate on the merits of our case in order to provide the important opportunity for public participation from a local level in these decisions.”

The filings for this case can be found on-line at: