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Federal agency OKs NEXUS pipeline project

By TOM HENRY • Dec 4, 2016 at 10:00 AM

TOLEDO — The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Wednesday said it has determined there are no major environmental issues that would keep the proposed NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline built.

The proposed pipeline would go through Erie County.

The decision, announced in FERC's 541-page final environmental impact statement, clears a major bureaucratic hurdle for the project and all but assures construction will begin as planned in early 2017.

In its long-awaited report, FERC concluded the pipeline and its associated projects will “result in some adverse environmental impacts.” But the regulatory commission, which oversees interstate pipeline projects, said those impacts will “be reduced to acceptable levels with the implementation of NEXUS’s and Texas Eastern's proposed mitigation measures and the additional measures recommended by staff in the final EIS.”

The commission cited some 38 project-specific mitigation measures for the applicants in its report.

FERC said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assisted with the document. Each will present their own their own conclusions and recommendations, but FERC has jurisdiction over the project.

The NEXUS project alone consists of 256.6 miles of new, 36-inch pipeline laid to move natural gas fracked from the Marcellus and Utica shale regions of southern and eastern Ohio to markets in the United States and southwestern Ontario, with 209.8 miles of the pipeline to be in Ohio and 46.8 miles of it in Michigan, FERC said.

It is to be connected with another one that will bring the total to about 261.4 miles of new pipeline.

FERC listed partners as NEXUS Gas Transmission, Texas Eastern Transmission, DTE Gas Co., and Vector Pipeline as partners. NEXUS and Texas Eastern are subsidiaries of Houston-based Spectra Energy, while DTE Gas is affiliated with Detroit-based DTE Energy. Vector Pipeline, based in Livonia, Mich., owns a 348-mile-long natural gas pipeline between Joliet, Ill., near Chicago, and Ontario. It is a joint venture between Calgary-based Enbridge, Inc., and DTE.

The project also is to include five above-ground compressor stations, including one in Waterville Township that has been opposed by numerous citizens and public officials.

Adam Parker, Spectra Energy spokesman, said FERC’s decision is “another timely, major project milestone that keeps NEXUS on track to receive its (construction) certificate in the first quarter of 2017.”

Local pipeline activist Paul Wohlfarth said the decision was expected, given FERC’s record for approving pipeline projects.

He said he believes the project will ultimately increase natural gas prices for Ohioans by exporting more product to Canada.

“Where is the public need to give them eminent domain?” Wohlfarth asked.

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©2016 The Blade (Toledo, Ohio)

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