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NEXUS remains confident about pipeline approval

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The company planning to build a natural gas pipeline on a route through Medina County said Friday it remains hopeful the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will take “swift action” on approval despite the agency’s inability to decide until Chairman Norman Bay, who left the commission Friday, is replaced.

“NEXUS believes the record supporting the project’s application is complete and ready for prompt FERC approval,” spokesman Adam Parker said in a statement Friday.

“NEXUS remains committed to placing the project in service in the fourth quarter of 2017, and is working with our contractors to ensure a safe and responsible construction plan is in place to achieve it,” he added.

Friday was Bay’s last day at FERC. He announced a week ago he would step down, allowing President Donald Trump to nominate a replacement.

No quorum

Bay’s departure leaves FERC with only two people serving on the five-member commission, meaning the body lacks a quorum.

NEXUS Gas Transmission, which is a partnership of DTE Energy of Detroit and Spectra Energy of Houston, is awaiting approval from the commission to begin construction of the $2 billion project that would travel through 10 Ohio counties to Michigan and end at a hub in Canada for export sales.

The commissioners received a final environmental impact statement on Nov. 30 that gave approval to the proposed route that includes its origin in Columbiana County through Stark, Summit, Medina and Lorain counties on the way to northwest Ohio.

Spectra on Jan. 27 asked the commission to expedite the approval of a “Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity” allowing construction to begin.

The NEXUS filing with FERC said there were “limited windows for certain construction activities” related to environmental impact mitigation.

The company said the project is premised on an “in-service date of Nov. 1, 2017.”

NEXUS wanted an approval by Friday, it said, “to satisfy contractual commitments to shippers and end-use customers.”

NEXUS added that the request for approval by Friday would “allow time for the prompt submissions of the required implementation plans and request for authority to commence construction.”

Paul Gierosky of York Township, a leader of the citizens group Coalition to Reroute NEXUS, on Friday reiterated that the FERC approval process was “seriously flawed.”

New FERC order

On Friday, FERC disclosed an order delegating additional authority to its staff in the absence of a quorum of commissioners.

But it did not appear to contain language that would override a delay to construction approval.

The order delegating power to FERC staff outlines specific authorities:

  • Rate and other filings: The director of the Office of Energy Market Regulation, or OEMR, which advises FERC on economic energy issues, can accept and suspend rate filings.
  • Extensions: FERC staff can extend the time for action on matters where it is permitted by law.
  • Waiver requests: The Director of OEMR can take appropriate action on some uncontested filings.
  • Uncontested settlements: The director of OEMR has the authority to accept settlements not contested by any party or participant, including FERC trial staff.

Bay’s resignation leaves the agency with acting Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur and Commissioner Colette Honorable as board members.

Documents filed with FERC in the days leading up to Bay’s departure included a submission by U.S. Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., who encouraged FERC to make a decision on NEXUS before Bay’s departure.

Two residents of Ypsilanti, Mich., a city potentially affected by the pipeline’s route, wrote to FERC opposing the project. They cited concerns about the pipeline’s proximity to an elementary school.

Medina resident Matt Lichty added his name to those dissenting with pipeline advocates in a Friday filing.

LaFleur will be the acting chairwoman until President Trump nominates a new agency leader and two new commissioners with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.

A lawsuit alleging violations of the 1938 Natural Gas Act is being prepared by Northeast Ohio opponents of the pipeline, according to a FERC filing.

Contact reporter Marina Malenic at (330) 721-4063 or nmalenic@medina-gazette.com.



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