WASHINGTON, D.C. — Yesterday, Appalachian Mountain Advocates (Appalmad), on behalf of the Sierra Club, filed a federal lawsuit challenging the decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to allow construction of the fracked gas NEXUS pipeline. They also notified FERC they intend to seek emergency relief preventing the pipeline’s construction while FERC reviews the group’s earlier request for rehearing, calling for a new and comprehensive examination of whether the NEXUS pipeline is necessary. However, FERC often issues tolling orders in these circumstances, essentially delaying the decision process indefinitely so that by the time important legal considerations are heard, the pipeline could already be constructed. If the litigation is successful, FERC’s certificate and order authorizing NEXUS to begin construction would be halted until FERC makes a decision on their request for rehearing.
FERC is charged with determining whether or not a proposed gas pipeline is necessary and appropriate for meeting a region’s energy needs before that project can be built. FERC granted that status to the NEXUS pipeline on August 25, but Appalmad and the Sierra Club contend that the NEXUS pipeline is duplicative of other existing and proposed energy sources, meaning there is little need for it, and it will have higher transport costs than those alternative sources.
Over its 255 miles, NEXUS would pump fracked gas from Columbiana County, Ohio to Ypsilanti Township, Michigan, crossing numerous waterways along the way. NEXUS has manufactured demand for the pipeline by steering its affiliate utilities companies, DTE Electric and DTE Gas, to agree to buy gas from NEXUS at above-market rates and then pass those excess costs onto their captive ratepayers. DTE Energy is a 50% shareholder of NEXUS and parent of DTE Electric and DTE Gas. A recent report by Oil Change International and the Sierra Club outlines how companies engage in self-dealing on pipelines.
In response, Chair of the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Executive Committee David Holtz released the following statement:
“Fracked gas pipelines like NEXUS are dirty, dangerous relics of the last century’s energy mix and the court should stop its construction until FERC has publicly ruled on whether or not it will sufficiently examine the harms posed by this pipeline. This pipeline isn’t just a threat to our clean air and water, it’s simply not necessary, and is merely an attempt by NEXUS to boost its own profits at our expense using a self-dealing scheme. Ohioans, Michiganders, and everyone who breathes our air deserves a complete review instead of the rushed rubber stamping process FERC is known for.”
Chair of the Sierra Club Ohio Chapter Pipelines and Dirty Fuels Committee Shelly Corbin said:
“FERC is rubber stamping pipeline permits without sufficiently examining the impacts to communities, our climate, or showing that they are actually needed. We deserve an opportunity to challenge whether these pipelines are actually benefiting Ohioans or simply handing over a means for international companies to ship fracked gas overseas to increase profits at the expense of our communities and our children’s future.”
About Appalachian Mountain Advocates
Appalachian Mountain Advocates (Appalmad) is a non-profit law and policy center dedicated to fighting for clean water and a clean energy future. Appalmad has a long history of winning precedent-setting court cases and negotiating costly settlements. The organization has secured hundreds of millions of dollars towards conserving natural areas and treating polluted water. We have worked for nearly two decades to ensure the fossil fuel industry cannot continue to dump its costs of doing business onto the public. For more information, visit www.appalmad.org.
About the Sierra Club
The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit www.sierraclub.org.