Leaders of the citizens group Coalition to Reroute NEXUS announced a possible timeline Monday for the federal lawsuit seeking to stop construction of a $2 billion natural gas pipeline project.
On May 12, more than 60 people from Medina, Summit and Stark counties joined to file the suit in U.S. District Court for Northern Ohio. The 50-page complaint names NEXUS Gas Transmission and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as defendants.
CORN leaders Paul Gierosky and Debby Christy, both from York Township, released a statement Monday about the case.
The pipeline was proposed in August 2014 and led to the creation of CORN and another citizens group known as Sustainable Medina County.
Before the federal lawsuit was filed, the goal of CORN was to have the pipeline’s route through Medina County changed.
Sustainable Medina County has opposed the project altogether and is gathering signatures for a petition that seeks to create a Medina County charter to allow residents to vote on issues such as whether to permit the creation of the pipeline.
The U.S. District Court docket shows the following schedule:
- June 13 — the defendants must reply to a request for a preliminary injunction;
- June 20 — a plaintiffs’ reply is due;
- June 22 — a conference is scheduled.
On Thursday, NEXUS and FERC asked the federal court to dismiss the suit, saying the Northern District of Ohio does not have jurisdiction and the appropriate court would be the Washington, D.C.-based Court of Appeals.
Green-based attorney David Mucklow, a leader of the group that brought the suit, filed a response Friday stating he believes the Ohio federal court does have jurisdiction.
Both sides refer to terms of the federal regulatory law from 1938 — the Natural Gas Act.
Mucklow did not return a message seeking comment Monday.
FERC spokeswoman Tamara Young-Allen said in a statement that it is FERC’s policy not to comment on matters pending before the courts and before the commission.
NEXUS spokesman Adam Parker said in a statement: “While we do not comment specifically on pending litigation, NEXUS has undergone a rigorous environmental review and has been publicly evaluated for more than two years to ensure that the project’s proposed design and construction will be conducted in accordance with all applicable state and federal regulations.”
FERC proposed the following schedule:
- June 30 — defendants’ response to the preliminary injunction request;
- Aug. 1 — plaintiffs’ reply;
- Aug. 15 — defendants’ reply supporting the request to dismiss the case;
- No date determined — a conference would be scheduled.
Judge John Adams of the U.S. court’s Akron office has been assigned the case.
NEXUS is a business group consisting of Houston-based Spectra Energy, DTE Energy of Detroit and Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge Inc. The pipeline would be 256 miles and stretch from Columbiana County in eastern Ohio through Stark, Summit, Medina and Lorain counties on the way to an energy hub in Michigan.
NEXUS has filed with FERC requesting a certificate of approval to begin construction. On Nov. 30, FERC issued a “Final Environmental Impact Statement” stipulating that the originally proposed pipeline route was approved.
However, the certificate of approval has not been granted because of three vacancies on the five-member FERC board.
On May 9, President Donald Trump nominated Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson to fill two of the three FERC vacancies. A hearing was held May 25 by the U.S. Senate’s Energy & Natural Resources Committee. If the committee approves the nominations, the full Senate then would vote on the nominations.
Gierosky told CORN members Monday that Adams “may rule for or against us. However, he may decide something else. … Now that we know we have a government that won’t defend us and laws that don’t protect us, will Judge Adams stick up for us? We can only hope.”
Contact reporter Ashley Fox at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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