About 75 people attended a meeting Monday night to learn about how to lodge concerns and comments about a newly proposed route for the NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline in the Chippewa Lake area.
Asked for a show of hands during the program at Medina Library hosted by Sustainable Medina County, which opposes the pipeline, several indicated they were landowners along the new route.
Sustainable’s Toledo-based attorney, Terry Lodge, told the landowners the situation was “inside the 2-minute warning in the fourth quarter.”
Lodge elaborated on the sports reference by saying that Nov. 7 was a new federal government deadline for people affected by the alternate route to file comments with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Lodge told the landowners: “Most of you can’t move. What we want is to make sure NEXUS is told to stay the hell out of Medina County.”
He said NEXUS should not be thought of as a public utility because “90 percent of the gas” transported will be for export to Canada.
“It’s not for public use; it’s not a public benefit,” he said.
The two-hour meeting was put together by the citizens group after it learned Oct. 6 that people along a new route called Chippewa D near Chippewa Lake Village were receiving notifications by telephone or mail that their land was affected.
Some landowners said they were notified by mail about the new Chippewa D route while others said they received phone calls.
Speakers at the meeting included a pastor, Sharon Kiesel, who discussed chemical sensitivity medical conditions; Lodge, working on behalf of Sustainable Medina County; and Tish O’Dell of Broadview Heights, a co-founder of Mothers Against Drilling in Our Neighborhoods.
O’Dell discussed pollutants released by pipelines as well as geographical areas affected by the hydraulic drilling process known as fracking. “We are collateral damage,” she said.
She said FERC’s role in the environmental protection process could be called “the regulatory fallacy.”
She added, “There’s an acceptable limit (to chemical emissions). And a permit makes the harm that is created the law.”
Sustainable leader Kathie Jones of Sharon Township, organizer of the meeting, said the group believes landowners who live within a half-mile of the proposed alternative route need to be educated about their rights.
Chippewa D is a 6.5-mile reroute that FERC has said is under consideration. A previous route called Chippewa C was “analyzed” and the D route was proposed after public comments.
Chippewa C is “very much still in play,” Lodge said, adding that NEXUS reported to FERC that portions of the C route are being reworked into the D route.
Last week Lodge said he filed a motion with FERC to suspend its decision regarding the Nov. 7 deadline for comment “because of the way it’s screwing the public.”
Lodge said the new group of landowners has learned only six weeks before the anticipated Thanksgiving holiday period when Washington, D.C.-based FERC is expected to approve or reject the pipeline proposal.
He said no elected political leaders in township or county offices could be expected to oppose the pipeline because to them “it’s clear that it’s an economic boon.”
During the summer before the new Chippewa D route came up, FERC was accepting public comments on its website — ferc.gov — about the original route until Aug. 29.
As part of the process, documents called “Draft Environmental Impact Statements” were created to allow for discussion of potential environmental problems or damage affecting the planned route or other optional routes.
No representative from the pipeline, nor any elected political leaders, attended Monday’s meeting.
NEXUS spokesperson Adam Parker said in an email Monday to The Gazette that a draft impact statement was released last July 8.
“At that time, FERC recommended that NEXUS adopt two minor route variations, one of which was the Chippewa Lake C Route Variation. The Chippewa Lake C Route Variation was fully analyzed in the DEIS and was made public at the time it was issued (July 8).”
At FERC’s request, Parker said, “NEXUS evaluated the Chippewa Lake C Route Variation and made optimizations to the route to improve constructability and minimize environmental impacts. These optimizations, which are captured in the Chippewa Lake D Route Variation, were included in NEXUS’ public filing with FERC on July 26. In addition to the public filing, landowners affected by the proposed optimizations of the Chippewa Lake C Route Variation were provided notice through individual letters from FERC dated Oct. 6. FERC also invited those affected landowners to provide comments by Nov. 7.”
O’Dell said that a possible way for landowners to “shut down” the production of the pipeline is for “enough people to complain.”
“Profits mean more than health or safety. And that’s hard to hear,” she said.
If it is approved, construction on the $2 billion project is anticipated to begin in the first quarter of 2017.
Parker said that NEXUS remains on track to receive what is called the Final Environmental Impact Statement on Nov. 30.
The FERC docket number for people wishing to file comments is CP16-22-000. The agency recommended sending messages to firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (202) 502-8258 for assistance. The docket number is requested on all correspondence.
Contact reporter Ashley Fox at (330) 721-4048 or email@example.com.