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NEXUS Asked to Reroute Gas Pipeline as Ohio Opposition Grows

The NEXUS Gas Transmission system, backed by Spectra Energy Corp., DTE Energy and Enbridge Inc., is facing increasing opposition in Ohio, and one city has asked FERC to require part of the pipeline be rerouted.

Announced more than two-years ago, NEXUS remains in the early stages of development (see Shale Daily, Sept. 5, 2012). The project applied for pre-filing review with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in January (see Shale Daily, Jan. 9). It only recently filed some of its draft environmental reports as part of that process to give stakeholders an opportunity to weigh-in on its plans. But NEXUS is gearing up as multiple pipeline projects in the Northeast face strong opposition (see Daily GPI, Jan. 23).

To date, elected officials in 18 Ohio communities have either passed resolutions opposing the pipeline or sent letters in support of changing its proposed path to minimize environmental and residential impacts, according to the Coalition to re-Route Nexus, which was formed to aid landowners (see Shale Daily, Dec. 19, 2014). The coalition assisted Green in Summit County, about 12 miles south of Akron, in completing report detailing an alternate route for more than 90 miles of the pipeline.

The 250-mile NEXUS would connect Utica and Marcellus shale natural gas with markets in Ohio, Michigan and Ontario. It is expected to originate in southeast Ohio and wind through 10 counties to an interconnect in Michigan that would utilize the existing Vector Pipeline system, which would carry the gas to Ontario.

In its FERC request, Green said the proposed NEXUS route was "hastily drawn" and "ill-conceived." The city also said it "identified numerous environmental factors such as wetlands, abandoned mines, dedicated parks and open space areas" in addition to residential areas and schools that could be threatened. It provided the Commission an alternate route that it said would reduce those impacts as much as possible.

NEXUS spokesman Arthur Diestel said a 600-foot-wide study corridor is still being surveyed that would change over the course of the next year. Ultimately, the pipeline would require a 50-foot permanent easement. Information gathered from the survey activities would be used in a series of draft environmental reports to help inform its formal application, which is expected to be filed late this year.

"I would like to emphasize that the proposed pipeline route has not yet been determined," Diestel said. "Study corridors are established along the proposed pipeline route to determine the best possible locations for the pipeline facilities and potential workspace areas. Refinements inside the study corridor and potential routing outside the study corridor are evaluated in order to minimize the impacts to sensitive areas while balancing constructability and impacts to landowners, the environment and cultural areas."

As part of the pre-filing process, FERC last week asked NEXUS to provide missing information in the initial draft environmental reports, including a request that the project consider and provide information about the city of Green's reroute plan. Diestel said NEXUS plans to cooperate with the request and added that the draft environmental reports would be revised and filed along with others throughout the year.

The Coalition to re-Route NEXUS said the goal of its request is to keep the pipeline 1,500 feet away from structures of all types and sensitive environmental areas through six northeastern Ohio counties. The group also said it's working on another reroute proposal with three counties in western Ohio.

NEXUS has previously said that the proposed route would utilize 60% of existing rights-of-way already in place for utilities, which FERC has also requested more information about. Diestel said the latest developments would not change the pipeline’s  planned in-service date of late 2017. 

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