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Nexus' request for quick FERC pipeline approval draws support, objection

Nexus Gas Partners LLC's request that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission immediately approve its 1.5-Bcf/d natural gas pipeline project quickly generated outside support and opposition.

In separate letters to FERC, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 18 supported the request for expedited authorization of the Nexus project and the city of Oberlin in Ohio opposed the request. On Aug. 7, Nexus project sponsors asked the commission to approve the project after newest commissioners Neil Chatterjee and Robert Powelson were confirmed by the U.S. Senate, giving FERC a voting quorum.

The Aug. 11 letter from Local 18, a chapter of the union with members in Ohio and Kentucky, echoed Nexus' claims that the project's record is complete and its application is ready for a certificate order from FERC.

The approximately 256-mile pipeline project would "meet a growing need for clean-burning natural gas in the regions of Ohio, Michigan and Ontario," the union said. The group also estimated that the project's construction activities would create 5,325 jobs and more than $565 million in wages.

On the other side, attorney Carolyn Elefant, who represents Oberlin, asked FERC to deny a certificate order for the project, pointing to a lack of demonstrated need for the pipeline. "Nexus' letter omits the real issue that accounts for the commission's failure to act on the certificate application so far: the pipeline's inability to secure contracts for more than 59% of the its 1.5 Bcf/d of capacity," Elefant said in her Aug. 10 letter to the agency.

Without a demonstrated need, Elefant said, the Nexus project fails to meet essential requirements for an authorizing certificate order. Elefant added Nexus' acquisition of 93% of the properties along the route, mentioned in its request to FERC, is "irrelevant."

The project received a positive final environmental impact statement from commission staff on Nov. 30, but it was not issued a certificate order prior to Feb. 3, when the commission lost its quorum.

The Nexus project is a joint venture of Enbridge Inc.'s Spectra Energy Partners LP and DTE Energy Co. The 36-inch-diameter pipeline and other transportation and compression infrastructure would deliver Marcellus Shale gas supplies through Ohio and Michigan to Ontario. (FERC docket CP16-22)