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Ohio residents ask for delay in approval of 1.5-Bcf/d NEXUS pipeline

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Ohio residents ask for delay in approval of 1.5-Bcf/d NEXUS pipeline

Ohio property owners asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to delay a decision on the 1.5-Bcf/d Nexus Gas Partners LLC natural gas pipeline until a lawsuit against the commission and the project has been resolved.

The 65 residents asked FERC on June 6 to delay a decision on a certificate order after the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio granted an extension until August for motions by the commission and the developer of the proposed NEXUS pipeline. The project is backed by Spectra Energy Corp and DTE Energy Co. Enbridge Inc. is the parent company of Spectra.

The residents filed a complaint in May that asked the court to vacate the final environmental impact statement that FERC staff issued for the project. The homeowners claimed the staff issued a report that "failed to provide a 'hard look' and instead gave 'no look' on many key issued related to the human environment."

The residents said the delay in FERC and NEXUS filings could make their case irrelevant. "There is good reason to believe that FERC will soon have a quorum," they said in a June 2 response to the court. "FERC is not likely to delay or deny issuance of the certificate in this case."

According to the residents' court challenge, alternative routes for the project were "ignored ... because of the potential for financial harm to NEXUS due to possible delays in construction while ignoring harm to stakeholders." The residents contested the project's use of eminent domain, saying the project is an export pipeline. They also said they were "given false and misleading information from FERC" about the project, safety issues and stakeholders' rights. (U.S. District Court of the Northern District of Ohio docket 5:17-cv-01005)

The project has also received criticism from environmental groups like the Sierra Club.

NEXUS spokesman Adam Parker could not provide comment on the pending case, but he said the project "has undergone a rigorous environmental review," including a public evaluation of proposed design and methods that comply with state and federal regulations.

"More than two years of discussions, surveys, permitting and planning helped develop a balanced plan for the route, construction techniques, and measures to avoid, minimize or mitigate impacts," Parker said in a June 7 email.

Nexus Gas Transmission filed an application for a new gas pipeline system in Ohio and Michigan in November 2015. The project would include approximately 256.6 miles of 36-inch-diameter pipeline. Spectra Energy's Texas Eastern Transmission LP filed an abbreviated application on the same day for pipeline facilities in Ohio that the company would use to lease gas transportation capacity to NEXUS. (FERC dockets CP16-22, CP16-23)