Pipeline

BG asked to monitor pipeline crossing of Maumee River

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   One of the strongest voices against the Nexus pipeline was back at Bowling Green City Council Monday evening. He lost his battle to stop the pipeline with a charter amendment – so he is now hoping to make sure construction of the line is monitored for safety. Brad Holmes asked for confirmation that the city will keep its commitment to monitor the pipeline underground crossing of the Maumee River. City officials assured that they would. The natural gas Nexus pipeline will run from eastern Ohio to Canada, and be buried just 800 feet from Bowling Green’s water treatment plant along its route. So Holmes said he was asking for the line to be monitored on behalf of all the people who rely on the city’s water. Holmes mentioned the poor environmental record of Rover Pipeline, which has spilled drilling fluid during its construction process in southern Ohio. The Nexus line is currently under construction and will likely be done by the end of summer. Mayor Dick Edwards said he has every intention to work very closely with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “They are the ones who will be doing the monitoring” since they have the equipment and knowledge, he said. Edwards said he will keep council and the public in the loop on when the river crossing work is scheduled. Council President Mike Aspacher said Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler promised his agency would be very hands-on during the river crossing construction. “We’re very well on the record with our concerns,” he said. And the Ohio EPA was responsive. “They are very mindful of the lessons they learned in southern Ohio,” from the Rover spills, Aspacher said. Council member John Zanfardino agreed. “They were going to be heightening their monitoring,” he said. Also at Monday’s meeting, Aspacher congratulated council members Bill Herald, Sandy Rowland and Zanfardino for coming up with a food truck ordinance. City…

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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…


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…


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…


Anti-pipeline charter amendment now in limbo

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The legal battle to get an anti-pipeline charter amendment on Bowling Green’s ballot has come down to two sides – those who want to stop the pipeline and those who would want the jobs building it. On Thursday morning, the petition submitted by citizen activists worried about the effect of Nexus pipeline on the city’s water plant was challenged by a Bowling Green man who is a member of the local plumber-pipefitter union. The Wood County Board of Elections took information from both sides and will come back with a decision. Last week, the Wood County Board of Elections voted to allow the November ballot to include the controversial charter amendment. However, then a Bowling Green resident, David W. Espen, filed a protest with the board of elections about the charter amendment. Espen was not present at Thursday’s hearing, but was represented by the Columbus law firm McTigue & Colombo. Espen’s objections cite two possible problems with the charter amendment petition – one questioning the number of valid signatures, and the other questioning the authority of the city to grant the power requested in the petition. The complaint zeroed in on five specific signatures. Normally, that might not matter if a handful of signatures were found to be invalid. However, the pipeline petition had only one more signature than required to appear on the ballot. A total of 1,230 signatures were collected on the petition. By law, to make it on the ballot, the petition needed 714 valid signatures. It had 715. The five signatures in question are from Bowling Green State University students who live on campus and therefore have dual addresses of their residence halls and of street addresses. Terry Burton, of the Wood County Board of Elections, testified that the board cross checks street addresses and dorm addresses, and allows either for students when they register and cast ballots during elections. The Ohio Secretary of State appears to support…


Pipeline charter amendment faces another challenge

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The effort to get a pipeline charter amendment on the ballot for Bowling Green voters is facing another challenge. Last week, the Wood County Board of Elections voted to allow the November ballot to include the charter amendment, which was petitioned for by people opposed to pipelines that could negatively affect the city. However, this week the charter amendment faces a new challenge. A Bowling Green resident, David W. Espen, has filed a protest with the board of elections about the charter amendment. Espen’s objections cite two possible problems with the charter amendment petition, according to Wood County Board of Elections Director Terry Burton. First, Espen claims the petition did not have a sufficient number of valid signatures. His complaint questions five specific signatures. Normally, that might not matter if a handful of signatures were found to be invalid. However, the pipeline petition had only one more signature than required to appear on the ballot. A total of 1,230 signatures were collected on the petition. By law, to make it on the ballot, the petition needed 714 valid signatures. It had 715. Second, Espen is challenging whether or not the charter amendment exceeds the city’s role allowed in the Ohio Constitution. The protest claims the issue goes beyond the limits permitted to municipalities, Burton said. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday morning at 8:30, in the fifth floor hearing room of the Wood County Office Building. Espen is being represented by the Columbus law firm McTigue & Colombo. The group supporting the petition will be represented by Toledo area attorney Terry Lodge. “The Charter Amendment belongs on the ballot,” citizen activist Lisa Kochheiser said after the latest challenge was filed. Burton said if the decision on this challenge is appealed, the issue will go straight to the Ohio Supreme Court. Last week, the board of elections voted with three in favor of the charter amendment being placed on the ballots. John Cuckler,…


Mayor gets audience with EPA about pipeline

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards finally got confirmation Tuesday that the Ohio EPA is at least listening to the city’s concerns about the Nexus pipeline that is proposed to run 700 feet from the city’s water treatment plant. During a conference call with Ohio EPA Director Craig Butler and Northwest Ohio Division EPA Chief Shannon Nabors, the issues raised by the city were discussed. Those same concerns also appeared in the “Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity” issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last month. “In much the same manner as the FERC document, today’s session with the Ohio EPA is in my view another significant indication that the issues raised by Bowling Green have been heard in both Columbus and Washington,” Edwards reported to City Council on Tuesday evening. “Today we heard from the Ohio EPA that their experts have carefully and methodically examined the environmental conditions of this construction and were reminded of the Ohio EPA’s commitment to the state’s waterways and environmental assets.” One of the mayor’s concerns was the monitoring of the pipeline construction. “All significant concerns raised by Bowling Green have been or are being addressed including specific and aggressive plans by both FERC and the Ohio EPA to develop site specific plans for monitoring the construction of the proposed pipeline,” he said. Lessons have been learned from the Rover pipeline construction, in which hazardous materials have been spilled along the route in Ohio. FERC will reportedly have field staff in Ohio for the Nexus project. And the Ohio EPA, in conjunction with its scientific and technical staff as well as with geologists with the Ohio Geological Survey, will monitor the actual construction. In other business at the council meeting, Municipal Administrator Lori Tretter discussed the city’s loss of the cable franchise fee.The state ended cable franchises in 2007, however the city had a franchise agreement that allowed the city to continue collecting the fee until…