Pipeline

BG officials want answers about Nexus pipeline spill

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Nexus pipeline officials have some explaining to do. Bowling Green officials were satisfied with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s response to a spill last month of 20,000 gallons of non-toxic drilling fluid north of the city. But the response of the pipeline company has left the city with some questions. For example, City Council members Daniel Gordon and Greg Robinette have asked: – When did the spill happen? Ohio EPA officials have said the spill was reported on July 17. However, emails from Nexus officials have stated the spill occurred on July 16. – How quickly did Nexus report the spill? Was the reporting done in a reasonable timeframe? – What kind of bentonite was involved in the spill? Though non-toxic, if it was the acidic form, are measures being taken to mitigate and monitor potential harm? – Does the Ohio EPA consider the Nexus decision to halt cleanup efforts at night a reasonable response? – Should Nexus crews have been prepared to work through the night? When contacted by Bowling Green Independent News about some of these questions, Nexus officials declined to talk on the phone and asked for the questions to be submitted in writing. A Nexus emailed statement said the pipeline company “remains committed to safe and environmentally responsible practices, including constructing the project in accordance with applicable environmental permitting requirements.” Though previous emails from Nexus stated the spill occurred on July 16, when asked about the conflicting dates, Adam Parker, who handles stakeholder engagement for Nexus gas transmission, changed the date to July 17 at approximately 6 p.m. The Ohio EPA has stated that Nexus crew members left the scene of the spill rather than continuing to clean up. Parker stated the Nexus crews temporarily suspended activities due to safety concerns related to working along the busy road after dark. When asked if Nexus has a policy in place requiring workers to continue with cleanup until it is completed, Parker responded with the following statement: “The project’s various plans and permits were filed…

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‘Does anyone represent the voters in Bowling Green?’ – Paul Wohlfarth

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


Nexus pipeline offers BG $80,000 to cross city land

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…


“Please vote YES for the Charter Amendment” – Jennifer Karches

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…


Pipeline work to begin – mayor reminds Nexus that city will be watching

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…


Two sides at odds over proposed BG charter amendment

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…


Anti-pipeline amendment doesn’t belong in city charter, McOmber says

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Just as the environmentalists don’t believe pipelines belong near the city’s water treatment plant, a Bowling Green City Council member doesn’t believe the proposed anti-pipeline charter amendment belongs in the city’s “pristine” charter. The anti-pipeline charter amendment remains in legal limbo – but just in case it’s cleared for the ballot in November, council member Bob McOmber cautioned about the language that may be inserted into the city’s charter. The proposed charter amendment is very difficult to understand, he said. And the portions McOmber does understand, he finds “highly objectionable.” “It’s inappropriate to insert that cause into the city charter,” he said during Monday’s council meeting. McOmber said the local residents behind the anti-pipeline charter amendment are a special interest group. While there is nothing inherently wrong with special interest groups, their views don’t belong in the city’s charter. “The proposal puts the cause of one special interest in the charter,” he said. The city’s charter is “pristine,” and has always been reserved for the mechanisms of city government. “I think it would be a mistake to insert special interests in the city charter,” he said. McOmber referred to the inflated Ohio constitution that has been allowed to grow into a “complete mess and embarrassment.” McOmber mentioned the successful anti-discrimination ordinances adopted by citizens a few years ago. That effort went through council to help with the drafting and adopting of the ordinances. “That is so much more appropriate,” he said. “This would be a mistake for the city.” McOmber, who is not running for re-election, suggested that prior to the election every council candidate should state their opinion on the proposed charter amendment. “The citizenry deserves to know where people stand,” he said. “My position is steadfast and will not change.” Even if the charter amendment did get on the ballot, and did get passed by voters, it would not stop the Nexus pipeline, McOmber said. “This is not going to make one iota of difference,” he said. “Federal law is heavily weighted against them.” Council…