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FERC Denies Staying Nexus Project in Setback for Opponents

FERC has denied several motions to stay its August certificate order approving the Nexus Gas Transmission pipeline project that were filed by environmental and citizens’ advocacy groups.

The groups filed their motions for a stay in September and October, with their sights set on preventing the project from advancing while a request for rehearing was pending. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission denied motions filed by the Sierra Club; Oberlin, OH; Sustainable Medina County; Neighbors Against Nexus; Freshwater Accountability Project; Communities for Safe and Sustainable Energy, and the Coalition to Reroute Nexus.

It was the latest setback for opponents who have waged a hardline campaign to stop the 1.5 Bcf/d project to carry Appalachian gas to markets in the Midwest and Canada. The bulk of the 257-mile pipeline would be constructed in Ohio. The Sierra Club filed late last year in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to stop all Nexus construction but the challenge was later dropped.

To support the motions to stay the certificate order, FERC had to establish that a petitioner would suffer irreparable injury. In its order, FERC said none of the groups established that. For example, the city of Oberlin had argued that Nexus might take property by way of eminent domain but FERC said that is a matter for the courts or state. Groups also argued that their legal challenges could fail if the pipeline was allowed to proceed, but FERC said “that does not establish that irreparable injury is certain and great, and actual and not theoretical.” The Sierra Club’s claim that a stay is necessary because there is no remedy once trees are cut down and wetlands destroyed is a “generalized claim” that also does not establish irreparable harm, the Commission said.

However, construction remains suspended on an eight-mile stretch in Northeast Ohio. The US. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit granted the City of Green’s motion to stay construction while it considers the project’s 401 water quality certification. Oral arguments have been scheduled for Jan. 31.

Construction continues in the other areas of Ohio and Michigan, Nexus spokesman Adam Parker said. The project, a joint venture of Enbridge Inc. and DTE Energy Co., is still targeting a 3Q2018 in-service date.  

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