By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN
BG Independent News
Bowling Green residents may be asked to vote on a pipeline issue in November.
A group of concerned citizens is trying to place an issue on Bowling Green’s ballot aimed to protect the city and its water supply from pipelines. The group’s goal is to prioritize people over pipelines.
Brad Holmes, president of the Environmental Action Group at Bowling Green State University, talked about the charter amendment earlier this week during a City Council meeting.
The group pushing to put the issue on the ballot has collected approximately 1,000 signatures so far. “We’re shooting for 1,200,” though just 700 valid signatures are required to get the charter amendment on the November ballot. The group hopes to submit its petition to the Wood County Board of Elections by July 31.
Holmes talked about the threats posed by the Nexus pipeline to the Bowling Green water supply, since the proposed route for the natural gas line is close to the city’s water treatment plant.
As volunteers have talked to local residents while collecting petition signatures, they have encountered varying degrees of awareness about the Nexus pipeline project, Holmes said. Some residents are not aware of the pipeline proposed so close to the water plant. Many others are under the impression that when City Council denied a property easement to the pipeline company, that the pipeline was no longer a concern.
That isn’t true, Holmes said. “We still do face threats from the Nexus pipeline.”
The purpose of the proposed charter amendment is “recognizing and protecting community rights to a healthy environment and livable climate.”
A portion of the amendment states, “That right shall include the right to be free from new infrastructure for fossil fuel transportation within the City of Bowling Green or on property owned by the City of Bowling Green, except for infrastructure to transport fossil fuels to end-users within Wood County.”
“We still need to put gas in our cars. We still need to use gas in our homes,” Holmes said.
However, when it comes to transporting gas through the region, the priority should be people not pipelines, he said.
“We deserve legal priority” over pipelines, Holmes said after the council meeting.
Holmes referred to the Rover pipeline, which is crossing southern Wood County. That project has resulted in several hazardous material spills as it made its way across Ohio.
Neocles Leontis also spoke with council about Enbridge Energy, which recently took over the Nexus pipeline project. Enbridge is the company responsible for the ruptured pipeline that spilled crude oil into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.
Leontis stressed that the city of Bowling Green has invested $10 million in its state-of-the-art water treatment facility. Replacing the plant would cost an estimated $30 million.