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Environmentalist files motion opposing NEXUS pipeline

By IVY KELLER • Updated Nov 19, 2016 at 6:48 PM

The contentious NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline project is facing further opposition in the form of a 66-page motion.

The motion was sent Nov. 16 by mail and email to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by Terry Lodge. The FERC regulates the transmission and sale of natural gas.

Lodge filed the motion on behalf of the Michigan Sierra Club, an organization that advocates environmental protection and activism. The Seirra Club Foundation operates on a national level, with many smaller branches throughout the country.

Although the Sierra Club has a long history of working to preserve nature, Lodge seems to be taking a practical approach to his argument against the pipeline. Rather than simply argue about the negative impact a gas pipeline might have on the surrounding land, he focuses largely on the claim that the pipeline is unnecessary, and would essentially be more costly to consumers.

A voice for conservationism since the 1800s, the Sierra Club recently protested the Keystone XL pipeline in 2013. More than 40 of its members and executive director Michael Brune were arrested following an act of civil disobedience.

Now, Lodge and the Michigan Sierra Club seek to oppose the NEXUS pipeline.

The focus of his motion against NEXUS is “on lack of need for the gas.”

In his e-mail, Lodge also writes that “the regulatory violation of soaking DTE Energy ratepayers for half the costs of construction; illegal misuse of eminent domain as a threat to coerce landowners to capitulate and lock down the pipeline route; NEXUS and FERC's refusals to consider any alternative to building the redundant pipeline; incorrect analysis of the contributions to global warming the pipeline would make; and the continuing FERC notion that it exists to rubber stamp any and all pipeline planned willy-nilly to crisscross the East and Midwest without regard to environmental effects with global implications.”

Lodge’s main argument lies not in the pipeline’s potential environmental impact, but the effect it would have on the energy sector — allegedly creating a non-competitive market and strong-arming consumers into needlessly paying more. Lodge also criticizes NEXUS and DTE Electric for building an unnecessary pipeline simply to take advantage of federal laws and pass more costs onto the customer.

He cites the nation’s “overbuilt” energy pipeline infrastructure as well. According to Lodge, the very incentives meant to encourage economic growth in the energy sector have instead led to companies taking over-advantage of them.

“The project history demonstrates that Electric committed to buying NEXUS gas despite its own conclusions that NEXUS would be less cost-effective than other available means of obtaining the same supply,” said Lodge, referring to DTE.

NEXUS, for its part, says it is simply filling a need for additional pipeline infrastructure in Ohio, Michigan and Canada. It says the pipeline would “support the growing demand for clean-burning natural gas and to offset the decline in traditional western Canadian supplies.”

Additionally, the NEXUS website states that by “expanding access to natural gas in these markets, NEXUS will provide consumers across the region with affordable, cleaner-burning and domestically-abundant natural gas to help meet the growing demand for cleaner power generation, industrial and commercial use, and home heating.”

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, natural gas is relatively clean-burning for a fossil fuel, but drilling for the gas and transporting it poses risks to the environment such as pollution.

The administration also notes that 26 interstate and several intrastate natural gas pipeline companies operate within the Midwest. This includes Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, as well as Minnesota, Wisconsin and Illinois.

A map and list of pipelines may be found here: www.eia.gov/pub/oil_gas/natural_gas/analysis_publications/ngpipeline/midwest.html.

Terry Lodge’s letter may be read here: www.sierraclub.org/sites/www.sierraclub.org/files/sce-authors/u1071/pipelinecomments.pdf.

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