The Sierra Club on Monday filed in federal court to drop both its appeal of the Nexus Gas Transmission project and an emergency motion to stop construction, saying it no longer has the support of affected landowners.
The request for voluntary dismissal came a week after the organization petitioned the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to review FERC’s certificate for the 1.5 Bcf/d pipeline. It wanted construction stopped for the duration of any review, claiming in its emergency motion that Sierra Club members would suffer “irreparable harm” if the project advanced.
The organization said Monday, however, that one of the declarants supporting the emergency motion had sold his property to Nexus. That sale, the Sierra Club acknowledged, happened before the group filed its appeal. The organization found out about the sale after reviewing a court filing by Nexus. “Petitioner now no longer believes that it can pursue these appeals,” the Sierra Club wrote in its request.
The other declarant in the case also granted Nexus an easement, “refuting any notion of irreparable harm,” the company said in the filing.
Nexus started construction last month on the project to connect more Marcellus and Utica shale gas to markets in the Midwest and Canada. The bulk of the 257-mile pipeline would be constructed in Ohio and move gas to a point in Michigan where it would link up for delivery to points north and west.
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. FERC tolled the request in October to give it more time for consideration. The Sierra Club argued that the tolling amounted to a failure to act on the rehearing request within the statutory 30-day period and gave the DC Circuit jurisdiction to review the certificate order.
It’s unclear what’s next for challenges to the project.
“Regardless of the legal filings…the Nexus pipeline remains a dirty and dangerous proposal that will threaten clean air, clean water and communities,” said Sierra Club’s Kelly Martin, director of the Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign. “We will continue to explore all legal options to ensure that this pipeline never gets built.”
A Nexus spokesman said last week that construction continues, with an in-service date of 3Q2018 still scheduled. Nexus is a joint venture of Enbridge Inc. and DTE Energy Co.