A decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on whether to approve or deny construction of the $2 billion NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline that would travel through Medina County is expected soon, possibly today.
Spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen said the commission’s decision on the request by Houston-based Spectra Energy will include three parts:
- issuance of a final environmental impact statement
- recommendation on the need for the pipeline
- recommendation on how to transport the gas in the “most just and reasonable way possible” if the project goes forward.
A draft environmental impact statement released in July said the project could result in “some adverse environmental impacts,” but these could be reduced to “less-than-significant levels” through measures and recommendations listed in the draft.
The commission at the time recommended further consideration of three proposed routes — two of which would affect Medina County.
The commission recommended a small reroute in the Chippewa Lake area, suggesting the change would offer a “significant environmental advantage.”
On Oct. 6, another Chippewa Lake route change came to light that would affect approximately 50 landowners in a 6ﾽ-mile area that is 300 feet wide. Called “Chippewa D,” it also would affect another 700 landowners within a half mile on either side of the possible route change.
FERC also asked NEXUS to submit minor readjustments to the path as well as provide a suggested location for a compressor station along the route. The stations have created controversy among landowners because of their proposed locations — including one in Guilford Township.
If approved, the NEXUS pipeline would carry natural gas from the Utica and Marcellus shale region in Ohio’s Appalachian Basin. The pipeline is proposed to start in Columbiana County and run through some densely populated parts of Medina, Summit, Stark and Wayne counties, through Michigan and to a hub in Canada.
Who’s on FERC?
The three commissioners set to rule on the project that first was proposed 2ﾽ years ago all were nominated by President Barack Obama for either a first or second term in 2014 and were confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
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The FERC chairman is Norman C. Bay, who was nominated to his four-year term by Obama in January 2014. Previously, Bay was the director of FERC’s Office of Enforcement, where the agency said he worked to improve market oversight and surveillance, according to his biography online.
Before coming to FERC, Bay was a professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law, where he taught criminal law, evidence and constitutional law.
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Commissioner Cheryl A. LaFleur first was nominated by Obama in 2010 and was confirmed for a second term in 2014. Prior to joining the commission, LaFleur had more than 20 years’ experience in the electric and natural gas industry. She served as executive vice president and acting chief executive officer of National Grid USA, which provides electricity to 3.4 million customers in the Northeast.
LaFleur’s previous positions at National Grid USA and its predecessor New England Electric System included chief operating officer, president of the New England distribution companies and general counsel.
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Commissioner Colette D. Honorable was nominated by Obama in August 2014, and unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate in December for a term that expires in June 2017.
An attorney, Honorable came to FERC from the Arkansas Public Service Commission, where she had served since October 2007, and led as chair from January 2011 to January 2015.
Honorable is past president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, where her biography says she focused on pipeline safety, reliability, resilience, fuel diversity and workforce development during her one-year term.
FERC’s ruling could be met with legal challenges by groups opposed to the project.
Environmental activists also are monitoring pipeline issues.
Following a recent letter to Congress calling for an investigation and review of FERC actions, members of nearly a dozen nationwide groups are working to schedule a meeting at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
The groups want to detail FERC’s “extensive history of bias and abuse against the environment,” according to a Nov. 23 news release. The groups expected at the Press Club meeting include the Delaware Riverkeeper Network, the FreshWater Accountability Project, Beyond Extreme Energy, Earthworks, Neighbors Against NEXUS and Ohioans Against Pipelines for Export.
One Northeast Ohio-based group also is working on pipeline concerns.
Paul Gierosky of York Township, a leader of the Coalition to Reroute NEXUS, a group that advocates rerouting the pipeline, said CORN will continue to pursue the issue even after FERC makes its recommendations.
“We are contemplating several legal actions at the federal level,” he said.
Contact reporter Marina Malenic at (330) 721-4063 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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