By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News One of the three pipelines crossing through Wood County found a different route – allowing it to transport its product without digging a single new trench through local fields. Rather than plowing its own route through the county, the Utopia pipeline built by Kinder-Morgan ended up using an under-utilized existing pipeline to pump ethane from the east side of Ohio to Sarnia, Ontario. “You’re not going to see that,” Allen Fore, Kinder-Morgan public affairs vice president, said recently as he sat in Kermit’s Restaurant and looked outside at the torn up pavement for the Columbia Gas project in downtown Bowling Green. The $540 million Utopia pipeline, which is capturing the gas being flared away from fracking in southeastern Ohio, has been in operation since January. But before Kinder-Morgan officials found the existing line to use, its route for the Utopia pipeline ran into court battles from Wood County landowners. Last year, local landowners who dug in their heels against Utopia’s eminent domain efforts won the battle to keep the pipeline from crossing their properties. Maurice Thompson, of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law which represented 26 Wood County landowners, said the use of existing pipelines is the best solution. “That’s what we’ve argued all along,” Thompson said. “Use existing pipelines instead of taking more land.” The proposed Utopia line would have run 21 miles through Wood County – south of Pemberville, then north of Bowling Green, then crossing the Maumee River south of Waterville. It would have affected 67 landowners on 117 tracts of land. “Sometimes these things start as adversarial and end in a good way,” Fore said. Meanwhile, two other new pipelines have been constructed through Wood County in the past year. The Rover pipeline cuts through the southern portion of the county, and the Nexus pipeline runs north of Bowling Green. The repurposing of a pipeline worked well for Kinder-Morgan and local landowners. The project started with 147 miles of pipeline being constructed from Harrison County to Seneca County. There the new line connected with the repurposed pipeline for 77 miles through Sandusky, Wood and Lucas counties. “It can work,” Fore said. “This was a real win-win for everyone.” There are more than 2 million miles of pipelines already buried across the U.S., according to Fore. “If you can utilize existing infrastructure, there’s a benefit. There’s more certainty,” he said. By using 77 miles of an existing pipeline, Kinder-Morgan avoided construction headaches, and landowners didn’t have acreage dug up. The environment also benefited, Fore said. The existing pipeline from the Clyde area through Wood County, eliminated the need to cross 103 streams, 16 wetlands, and 42 archaeological and cultural sites. “It lessened the environmental impact,” he said. Repurposing old pipeline also means no repaving of roads, and no restoring of land for owners after construction. The older pipeline was built in the 1970s, and was in good condition, Fore said. “Pipelines don’t have an expiration limit,” he said, adding that the line was thoroughly tested before Kinder-Morgan bought it. “We did our due diligence before purchasing it to make sure it’s good.” According to Fore, the use of an existing under-utilized pipeline did not save Kinder-Morgan a great deal of money. An estimated 25 percent of the landowners…Read More
Statement by BG Mayor Richard A. Edwards November 1, 2017 No one single issue has caused me more distress in my role as Mayor than the Nexus pipeline issue. As a person who has long been sympathetic with environmental causes and concerns, I personally have developed a huge distaste for more and more pipelines as a matter of course and I understand fully the passion of individuals who feel the same way. Since first being made aware of the NEXUS pipeline routing, my personal concern, and a concern shared by all members of City Council, has been to protect in every way possible the City’s state-of-the-art water treatment plant on the Maumee River in Middleton Township which processes drinking water for residents of Bowling Green, much of Wood County and the City of Waterville. That has been our focus all along knowing that a local government cannot override a decision made by the federal government. Good, bad or otherwise, its basic government. We have tried as best we can to heighten public awareness and raise concerns about potential threats to the water treatment plant. I’m grateful to some invaluable assists from any number of thoughtful scientists and citizens in this regard. I’m also grateful to the Director of the Ohio EPA, Craig Butler, and his senior staff and water resource specialists for their cooperation and understanding of BG concerns. When construction begins, near the water treatment plant with a pipeline going under the Maumee River, I have been assured and re-assured by the EPA and other agencies of government that every effort will be made to monitor the project to ensure public safety and our drinking water. Sadly, the promoters of an amendment to the City Charter are attempting to mislead voters into believing that adoption of the amendment will prevent construction of the pipeline. Nothing could be further from the truth. The pipeline project has nothing to do with the physical boundaries, i.e., the city limits of BG proper. The issue is with Middleton Township and the crossing of the pipeline there some 9 miles from BG but within 700 feet of the NE corner of the reservoir. The real challenge for us all is to apply every effort possible to ensure strict compliance with all of the 39 conditions set forth for the project by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
Bowling Green City Attorney Mike Marsh silently signed away the city’s easement rights to the Nexus pipeline on October 11th. Then later Mayor Dick Edwards publicly decreed that he and his team will be watching the NEXUS pipeline river crossing as if NEXUS cares. Congressman Bob Latta, the absent representative to all this, signed a letter along with 83 other well oiled representatives to call on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to prosecute any pipeline protestors as terrorists. Does anyone represent the voters in Bowling Green? https://buck.house.gov/sites/buck.house.gov/files/wysiwyg_uploaded/Protecting%20Energy%20Infrastructure.pdf Paul Wohlfarth Ottawa Lake, Mi
By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Earlier this month, Nexus pipeline officials filed a lawsuit against all holdout property owners. Bowling Green was one of those communities that had refused to grant the pipeline an easement to cross its land. This time around, the pipeline company was armed with eminent domain. On Oct. 11, Bowling Green agreed to a magistrate’s order to join in settlement discussions. And on Friday, the city received an offer of nearly $80,000 from Nexus to cross city-owned land in Middleton Township. “They were granted eminent domain powers. Now they’re exercising it,” said Bowling Green City Attorney Mike Marsh. But local pipeline protesters see it differently. They see it as the city selling out. “This morning we checked court records and found that on October 11 Mike Marsh silently signed away the city’s easement rights to Nexus pipeline,” Lisa Kochheiser stated. “The city has betrayed citizens’ trust and has scandalously kept it to themselves.” Last December, Bowling Green City Council voted unanimously to not grant as easement for the Nexus pipeline. Concerns were expressed about the pipeline route running just 700 feet from the city’s reservoir at the water treatment plant. “They have failed to inform the public that they aren’t willing to stand up for the will of the people,” Kochheiser continued. But Marsh said the city and other holdout landowners across the state have lost to eminent domain. All that remains to be determined is the dollar amount that will be paid. “We’re all under orders to try to negotiate settlements by Nov. 3,” he said. City officials have yet to discuss the $80,000 offer. “The real issue now is compensation.” However, Kochheiser and attorney Terry Lodge pointed out that the village of Waterville continues to refuse compliance with the Nexus lawsuit. “The Village of Waterville has denied compliance with the Nexus lawsuit and is standing up for the rights of residents who passed their charter amendment prohibiting pipelines last year,” Kochheiser stated. Waterville legal director Phil Dombey instead filed a reply, claiming that the village’s local charter amendment forbids the community from consenting. Marsh said Waterville isn’t allowed to enter into negotiations because of its charter amendment. Marsh added that Bowling Green did not give in on granting an easement. “There’s been no grant of an easement,” he said. But since the pipeline has been given eminent domain powers, the city isn’t fighting it. “We’re not contesting their ability to condemn the property,” Marsh said. According to Lodge, Bowling Green’s action has given Nexus the ability to start construction on city-owned property. “The City of BG has expressly consented to immediate possession – that is, Nexus can commence this moment to build across the BG land,” Lodge stated. “Immediate possession is a point of law that is being disputed by Oberlin and certainly Waterville and other property owners along the way, and the cases are divided on whether immediate possession is constitutional. Mike Marsh and the mayor have executed a complete and total laydown, without mentioning it publicly. This was deliberate, in order to make the charter amendment moot. It won’t, but it will not be surprising to see trenching and intense activity happening along this part of the Nexus route sooner than might otherwise have been the situation. By consenting…
Please vote Yes for the Charter Amendment (CA). This amendment will return some of the home rule rights that Ohio elected officials have systematically stripped away from us over the years. Actually, the CA has already done that, as the Ohio Supreme Court decision on October 13, 2017 affirmed, “…Boards of Election do NOT have the authority to sit as arbiters of the legality or constitutionality of a ballot measure’s substantive terms.” This strikes down the last minute addition to HB463, passed in December 2016, that gave the power to B’sOE to strike down ballot issues. Ballot issues that have followed Ohio law and have thousands of signatures of citizens; a right Ohio citizens have enjoyed for over a century without fear of scrutiny and interference. Pipelines are being built in our area now, and more are to come, with the recent federal legislation allowing fossil fuels to be exported for sale to other countries. There are other threats, too. Back in 2013 I spoke with a family living on the south end of town that was contacted about selling their mineral rights. How would you like having gas wells in town? With pipelines nearby this scenario looks increasingly likely. Our city council has not acted on behalf of citizens, but they and others are spreading far-fetched scenarios of hypothetical situations that won’t happen. There will not be mass anarchy and mayhem in the streets. According to the CA, citizens can peacefully enforce their rights IF the city does not. Of course the city will follow the law. I received in the mail a recycled version of a pamphlet that was used against the CA in 2013, which also spread essentially “made up” scenarios that had no basis in fact. This pamphlet stated that the CA would “prohibit the infrastructure for fossil fuel transportation within the City of BG.” This is a lie by omission. The critical part omitted: “…EXCEPT for infrastructure to transport fossil fuels to end-users with Wood County.” If the opposition has to take ballot language out of context in order to turn people against the CA, then I question the strength of all of their arguments. Last year the city of Waterville passed a similar Citizens’ Bill of Rights and there has not been mass anarchy and mayhem in the streets. In fact, what did happen, was the Waterville City Council told Nexus/Endbridge they were not allowed, per their Charter, to use city roads for pipeline construction, which would make it impossible for the pipeline to be built on its proposed path through the village. This Citizens’ Bill of Rights is reasonable and beneficial for all their citizens. I am sure the citizens of Waterville are grateful to have this legal protection, where before they were absolutely powerless to stop this massive, polluting project from cutting through their city. Please vote YES for the Charter Amendment. Jennifer Karches Bowling Green
By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Nexus pipeline officials have notified the city of Bowling Green that construction of the natural gas pipeline through this area will begin “in the near future.” Bowling Green officials have sent notification back that they will be keeping an eye on the construction of the 36-inch pipeline. The main concern of city officials is the Bowling Green water treatment plant, which sits about 2,000 feet from where the pipeline will be buried. The water reservoir, which supplies the plant, is just 700 feet from the pipeline route. “We want to make sure Nexus is adhering to the standards,” Assistant Municipal Administrator Joe Fawcett said Monday afternoon. Nexus Gas Transmission sent a letter to the city earlier this month to make officials aware of company contacts to call in case there are construction problems with environmental, restoration or other issues. The company will make an effort to respond to hotline calls within one hour, the letter stated. A Nexus representative will respond within 24 hours to discuss resolution of concerns, the letter continued. “We are committed to minimizing any inconvenience our construction may cause,” said the letter signed by Walton Johnson, right-of-way project manager for the Nexus project. Last week, Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards wrote back. He let pipeline officials know that the city has voiced several concerns about the project – most which have not been resolved. “I trust and sincerely hope that you and your colleagues know that the City of Bowling Green, it’s administration and city council, have some very basic concerns about the project in terms of its proximity to the city’s state-of-the-art water treatment plant located on the Maumee River and the BG Fault Line nine miles north of the city,” Edwards wrote. The city has enlisted the help of independent geologists and hydrologists, the Ohio EPA and others – and has registered concerns with the Ohio EPA, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the U.S. Congress and the Ohio General Assembly. The mayor noted the city has no power to have the pipeline moved further from the water treatment plant. However, the city will insist “on strict adherence to all of the conditions” put in place for the project. Over the last decade, the city has invested more than $20 million in making the water treatment facility state-of-the-art. The plant supplies water to several communities in Wood County, plus to Waterville in Lucas County. Edwards also stressed that Nexus must inform city officials of the pipeline construction schedule. “I don’t want to learn by accident or by chance the projected date when the Maumee River crossing will commence,” he added. The mayor warned that there will be independent scientists and seismologists joining with FERC and the Ohio EPA to monitor the routing and the drilling. “The least little variance in the prescribed format will be met with great resistance and strong public comment as some of the Nexus scientific and engineering shortcomings in the planning of the project in terms of the river crossing and the BG Fault Line are well known and documented,” Edwards wrote.
By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News Words matter. The proposed Bowling Green charter amendment is intended to give the community rights to a healthy environment and livable climate. But while that may be the intent, critics say the words go far beyond those reasonable rights. The wording of the charter amendment may be difficult for voters to digest. The supporters interpret it as giving citizens a right to peaceably protest projects such as the Nexus pipeline that is planned near Bowling Green’s water treatment plant. But others see the wording as so open to interpretation that it goes far beyond what most city residents would want. It hardly seems possible the two sides of the Bowling Green charter amendment issue are talking about the same two pages of text when they describe the proposal. Lisa Kochheiser and Brad Holmes, of the Bowling Green Climate Protectors, see the charter amendment as a way for citizens to intervene if the city does not adequately protect its citizens from harm to their environment. “We’re not trying to overthrow the government. We want to strengthen our government by adding to citizen rights,” Holmes said. The majority of people don’t want pipelines in or near their communities, he said. “This is going to be the most tangible way of people legally protesting.” City attorney Mike Marsh doesn’t want pipeline in the city either. And if there were a ballot issue to not allow Nexus on city land, he would support it. But the charter amendment goes far beyond that, he said. “It’s a far reaching, almost anarchy type of proposal,” 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.” Kochheiser said the charter amendment will allow citizens to protest a pipeline or other threats to the environment by peaceful protests, like a sit-in or forming of human chains. “This gives us the right to do it without the threat of being thrown in jail,” she said. “We’re not going to be throwing rocks. We’re not going to be looting,” Holmes said. But the charter amendment draws no lines at the types of “non-violent direct action” that would be allowed. If people found the transportation of fuel tanker trucks to be a threat, “you could have a sit-in on I-75,” Marsh said. “That would be non-violent, but it would create chaos.” And if a citizen doesn’t approve of a neighbor’s use of fertilizer on their lawn, they would have the right to flood their neighbor’s lawn. The charter amendment prohibits the police from stopping such actions, he said. “I don’t believe the proponents we see every week at city council are aware of the ramifications,” Marsh said. “I think they’re well meaning people.” But there is a definite lack of trust between the two sides on this issue. Kochheiser said city officials were aware of the Nexus pipeline proposal for months but were unwilling to take action to stop it. “The city resisted this for months,” she said. “We wasted a tremendous amount of time.” City Council, however, did take action to deny easements to the pipeline, which gave the city more time to study the issue. Mayor Dick Edwards brought in a panel of experts to discuss the threats…