Nexus Pipeline

BG voters reject anti-pipeline charter amendment

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…


Last pitch made for BG charter amendment proposal

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   On the eve of the Tuesday’ election, proponents of the Bowling Green charter amendment made one last big pitch for the proposal to City Council Monday. And city officials, whose efforts had been questioned and criticized by the proponents for the past year, ended up thanking the college students behind the proposal for their passion and sincerity. The evening ended with a handshake between Mayor Dick Edwards and Brad Holmes, one of driving forces behind the charter amendment. On Tuesday, Bowling Green voters will determine whether or not the anti-pipeline amendment becomes a part of the city charter. Three BGSU students stood up Monday to defend the charter amendment. Alex Bishop, who is originally from Mansfield, said the Rover pipeline runs about a half mile from her home and spilled thousands of gallons of hazardous material that destroyed a wetlands. She doesn’t want to see something similar happen near her “second home” of BGSU. “This issue is really important to me,” Bishop said. “I wanted a chance to come here and talk about it.” Holmes said the charter amendment proposal had to jump through several hoops to even get on the ballot. “I’m just very happy we made it this far,” he said. Though the wording of the charter amendment has been criticized, the purpose of the proposal is to empower city officials and the community to reject plans for a pipeline that could be potentially dangerous, he said. “We’re very confident, if passed,” the wording would help the city put a…


Statement by Mayor Richard Edwards on the Nexus Pipeline

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…


‘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…


“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…


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…


Accusations fly at council meeting over charter amendment

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Supporters of the Bowling Green Charter Amendment on the Nov. 7 ballot accused their opponents Monday evening of engaging in “smear politics to sway the vote.” But one of several Bowling Green City Council members opposed to the charter amendment called the proposal “an attempt to legalize anarchy.” The charter amendment proponents spoke first at Monday’s City Council meeting. Lisa Kochheiser said the amendment purpose is “expanding rights of people to protect their families and community” against environmental harm. She spoke of the Nexus pipeline route that is proposed near the city’s water treatment plant, and said that a second pipeline by the same company is in the works. Wood County is “caught in the crosshairs” of many pipelines since it is located on the natural gas route from southeast Ohio to Canada. Kochheiser accused city leaders of knowing two years in advance about the Nexus project, but not telling the public. She asked when the city was going to inform the public about the second proposed pipeline. Though city council denied an easement for the pipeline, that was the only action taken to stop the project, she said. City council “refused” to take formal action against the pipeline, did not pass an ordinance against the project, and would not file complaints about the proposal. “The city refuses to support the rights of the people,” she said. Kochheiser was also critical of multiple council members who have stated that the issue does not belong in the city charter – that it would…


Second BG council member against charter amendment

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   A second Bowling Green City Council member has come out in opposition to the proposed charter amendment which is aimed to stop pipelines and protect a healthy climate and environment. Just as Monday’s council meeting was coming to a close, Bruce Jeffers asked to speak his mind on the ballot issue. Last month, council member Bob McOmber spoke out in opposition to the charter amendment. Jeffers said the city has taken all the steps possible on the pipeline issue. City Council rejected an easement request for the Nexus pipeline. And Mayor Dick Edwards bought in a panel of experts to discuss the risks involved with the pipeline proposed so close to the city’s water treatment plant. The mayor also reached out to the Ohio EPA and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which responded to specific concerns expressed by city officials. “We in Bowling Green are not the experts on pipelines,” Jeffers said. That is FERC’s job, he added. “It is beyond our expertise and power.” Jeffers said the proposed charter amendment would be difficult to work with and is too far-reaching. “I find the amendment cumbersome,” he said. “And there’s almost no chance of it standing up in court.” Earlier in the meeting, City Attorney Mike Marsh was asked about the status of the proposed charter amendment. The issue is still waiting for a ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court, he said. But because the Wood County Board of Elections could not wait for the decision, the charter amendment is already on…


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…


Board of Elections rules pipeline charter amendment can be on ballot – appeal already filed with Ohio Supreme Court

The anti-pipeline petition for a Bowling Green charter amendment has won a battle to get on the ballot this November. But the opposition has already filed an appeal with the Ohio Supreme Court. The Wood County Board of Elections reported today that it has ruled in favor of the petitioners asking for Bowling Green voters to be able to cast ballots on a charter amendment against pipelines. A hearing was held last week after a city resident, David W. Espen, who is a member of the plumber-pipefitters union, protested the petition. Espen, who was represented by Donald McTigue, of Columbus, said the petitions submitted did not have enough valid signatures, specifically noting the signatures of five BGSU students who used their residence hall addresses rather than their street addresses. The Board of Elections determined the five signatures meet the street address requirement and are valid. Espen’s protest also questioned the constitutionality of the charter amendment, saying it required the city to give citizens authority that the city does not possess. The Board of Elections also concluded the protester had not presented sufficient evidence that the issue should not appear on the ballot. “This is good news,” said Lisa Kochheiser, one of the citizens pushing for the charter amendment. “Now we just have to wait and see if the protester will take it to the Ohio Supreme Court.” That appeal will have to be submitted quickly, since the charter amendment is scheduled to appear on the November ballot in Bowling Green. “There’s a time crunch here,” Kochheiser said. McTigue said late…


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…


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….


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…


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….