The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recommended approval of the NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline through parts of Ohio in a final environmental impact statement Wednesday.
The project involves more than 200 miles of pipeline in Ohio that would carry natural gas to markets in Ohio, Michigan and Canada.
The recommendation is the final step before an official permit is granted, which could happen in the next 30 to 90 days.
“This is a sad day for Medina County,” said resident James Harvey, whose property will be bisected by the proposed pipeline. “This is a sad day for our country as well.”
Harvey and his son, John Harvey, own more than 150 acres of land in the affected area of Seville, Ohio. They worry that the pipeline will affect their horse, cattle and farming operations on their land. They also have safety concerns about the 36-inch pipeline running through their backyards.
“Basically this report says Nexus has chosen this route,” John Harvey said. “This is the route. They’re coming and just basically deal with it.”
But Terry Lodge, attorney for pipeline opposition group Sustainable Medina County, told News 5 that fight is far from over.
“This isn’t done,” Lodge said. “Expect legal challenges before and after the final permit is issued.”
If and when the permit is issued, it would give NEXUS permission to proceed with construction on easements they have acquired and pursue federal litigation against landowners who have not conveyed an easement to NEXUS.
James Harvey said he and his neighbors will continue to fight the project.
“We’re going to continue to oppose everything that FERC says that we don’t think is right and hope that the law will eventually be on our side,” he said.
The company hopes to obtain the permit by first quarter of 2017.
In a statement emailed to News 5, a Spectra Energy spokesperson gave the following response to Wednesday’s report:
NEXUS Gas Transmission, LLC (NEXUS) reached a critical milestone today as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued a timely Final Environmental Impact Statement (“FEIS”) for the project. The issuance of the FEIS is another timely and major project milestone that keeps NEXUS on track to receive its Certificate from FERC in the first quarter of 2017 with construction to begin soon thereafter.
The FEIS is FERC Environmental Staff’s evaluation of all environmental impacts of the project’s construction and operation, if FERC approves the project’s pending Certificate Application. The FEIS was prepared by FERC staff and its independent expert consultants, taking into consideration the information NEXUS has provided in its Certificate Application and supplemental filings, as well as input from landowners, communities, key stakeholders and environmental permitting agencies.
NEXUS has been evaluating proposed routes, design and construction methods and potential impacts on community members and the environment since August 2014. More than 2 years of discussions, surveys, studies, permitting and planning, has developed a balanced plan for the route, construction techniques, and measures to avoid, minimize or mitigate impacts. Overall, FERC has responded to concerns raised by stakeholders and found that the NEXUS project will not have a significant adverse effect on local communities.
The FEIS notes that while construction will temporarily affect the environment, the environmental impacts would be less than significant in light of the project’s proposed mitigation and other mitigation measures recommended by FERC Environmental Staff.
· FERC evaluated 15 major route alternatives to the proposed pipeline route, which included three versions of the City of Green Route Alternative, and found NEXUS’s proposed route acceptable.
· During project planning, NEXUS incorporated many route alternatives and variations into its original route. In total, NEXUS adopted a total of 239 route changes totaling about 231 miles (91 percent of the pipeline route) for various reasons, including landowner requests, avoidance of sensitive resources, or engineering considerations.
In addition, the FEIS addresses stakeholders and states that NEXUS will not have a significant adverse impact on local communities or the socioeconomics of the area.
· FERC did not find any evidence that property values would diminish as a result of a pipeline.
· With regard to the Waterville compressor station, FERC concluded that the station would not result in any significant impact to air quality, the site would provide adequate visual screening from public view, and would result in noise levels that are in compliance with FERC standards.
· FERC notes that construction of NEXUS would benefit both state and local economies via workforce, local purchases and construction related materials, and taxes.
NEXUS will allow for the ongoing conversion from coal to clean burning natural gas for electric generation which has been announced by a number of Midwest utilities. It will also support projected economic growth in Ohio and Michigan.
Now that the FEIS has been issued, the project anticipates that FERC will decide on the project’s Application for Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity in the first quarter of 2017.