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Sierra Club Urges Court to Halt Nexus Construction

The Sierra Club on Monday petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to review FERC’s certificate for the 1.5 Bcf/d Nexus Gas Transmission project. The environmental group also filed an emergency motion to halt construction while the review is pending.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a certificate authorizing Nexus in August, which was followed by a rehearing request filed in September by a coalition of environmental groups led by the Sierra Club. They argued that the Commission failed to properly evaluate the public need for the project or examine impacts on greenhouse gas emissions.

After six months without a quorum, which left a backlog of work, FERC tolled the request in October to give it more time for consideration. The Sierra Club argued in its petition that the tolling amounted to a failure to act on the request within the statutory 30-day period and gave the DC Circuit jurisdiction to review the certificate order.

“FERC is rubber stamping pipeline permits without sufficiently examining the impacts to communities, our climate, or showing that they are actually needed,” said Sierra Club Ohio’s Shelly Corbin. She said the public “deserves an opportunity” to challenge whether such pipelines are benefiting the public or private companies.

Nexus, a joint venture of Enbridge Inc. and DTE Energy Co., was cleared by FERC to start construction last month. The Sierra Club wants construction stopped because it argues that its members would suffer “irreparable harm” in the time it would take the court to review the project certificate.

Nexus spokesman Adam Parker said construction continues, with an in-service date still planned for 3Q2018. He could not comment about the court challenge.

The project would connect more Marcellus and Utica shale natural gas to markets in the Midwest and Canada. The bulk of the pipeline would be constructed in Ohio, where it has faced staunch opposition, including a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in May. The Sierra Club’s latest challenge is similar to those faced by the Atlantic Bridge and Atlantic Sunrise projects, which each have rehearing requests and petitions for review pending.

Atlantic Sunrise was forced to halt construction for three days last week before the DC Circuit lifted a stay after a three-judge panel denied an emergency motion filed by a coalition of environmental groups. Construction has since resumed, but the court challenge is still pending.

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