By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Many Bowling Green residents distrust pipelines, but they also disliked the charter amendment intended to keep the lines off city land.
The charter amendment, proposed by Bowling Green Climate Protectors, failed on Tuesday by a vote of 2,145 (39 percent) to 3,408 (61 percent).
“I’m grateful to the voters of Bowling Green for protecting the integrity of the city charter,” Mayor Dick Edwards said as the results came in.
The proposed Bowling Green charter amendment was intended to give the community rights to a healthy environment and livable climate. But while that was the intent, critics said the words went far beyond those reasonable rights.
Despite defeat on Tuesday, the group behind the charter amendment is not daunted, said Brad Holmes, of the Climate Protectors organization.
“We’re going to keep our options open,” Holmes said. And while the issue failed at the polls, it succeeded at making people more aware of the threats from pipelines, he said.
“We raised awareness about the severity of these type of issues in Bowling Green,” Holmes said. “We hope to inspire other communities to do such initiatives.”
The Bowling Green Climate Protectors, saw the charter amendment as a way for citizens to intervene if the city does not adequately protect its citizens from harm to their environment. The charter amendment would have given citizens a right to peaceably protest projects such as the Nexus pipeline that is planned near Bowling Green’s water treatment plant in Middleton Township.
However, the language of the charter amendment seemed to doom the proposal.
“It’s a far reaching, almost anarchy type of proposal,” City Attorney Mike Marsh said. “It allows citizens on their own to take actions they deem necessary to protect the environment. It’s up to anybody’s interpretation.”
The charter amendment proponents claimed the proposal was Bowling Green’s one chance to protect the city’s water treatment plant from the Nexus natural gas pipeline running 700 feet from the reservoir for the plant.
But critics have said this amendment would have no impact on the Nexus pipeline plans.
The majority of council members were opposed to the charter amendment and also stressed that the amendment had no place in the Bowling Green City Charter, which has been preserved for city government operations.
City Council, however, did take action to deny easements to the pipeline, which gave the city more time to study the issue. Edwards brought in a panel of experts to discuss the threats from the pipeline, and has written letters to legislators and the Ohio EPA expressing concerns.
Now the city’s focus, Edwards said, must be to make sure Nexus pipeline meets all the safety standards as it is installed near the city’s water reservoir and as it crosses the Maumee River.
“The challenge all along has been to do everything we possibly can to protect our Bowling Green Water Treatment Plant in Middleton Township,” the mayor said.