Bowling Green Residents Reject Initiative That Would Ban Future Pipelines

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Tom Henry | The Blade | November 7, 2017

BOWLING GREEN — A citizen-led ballot initiative that calls for a ban on more pipelines transporting natural gas and other fossil fuels through city-owned property was soundly rejected by Bowling Green voters.

The measure lost by a 61-39 percent margin.

“I don't feel like it's an obituary,” said Terry Lodge, a Toledo attorney who represents citizens who successfully got the petition on the ballot. He added it has laid the groundwork for similar initiatives in the future.

“What we have is a different situation where people now are taking a new look at local control. So much power has been pulled away and voices have been muted. It's not over.”

Mr. Lodge said he believes northwest Ohio “is very much the crossroads of some very bad energy policy” and blamed Mayor Dick Edwards’ vocal opposition in part for the defeat.

“The principal campaigner against this was the mayor,” he said.

Proponents scored a major victory on Oct. 19, though, when the Ohio Supreme Court upheld a decision by the Wood County Board of Elections to keep the initiative on the ballot. Mr. Lodge said that “knocks down walls” for Bowling Green and other communities statewide.

“Just knowing we'll have one fewer hurdle to cross is pretty good news. This is long-term stuff,” he said.

Mayor Edwards, who last week issued a statement critical of the way he’s been portrayed by his opponents, said he respects the passion shown by citizens behind the initiative but opposed it because he didn’t believe it would be effective.

“Emotionally, it’s a complicated issue,” he said.

Mr. Edwards said he is “grateful to the voters of Bowling Green for preserving the integrity of the city charter” and for realizing there is currently no plan to run a distribution line through the actual city limits. He vowed to have the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and others see that NEXUS’ plan for running its line through city-owned property in Middleton Township nine miles away - 700 feet from the city’s reservoir and 1,700 feet from its water-treatment plant - is done right.

“We will remain engaged and focused with construction due to its relative close proximity to the city's water treatment plant,” he said. “I understand the passion of people who were pushing for the charter amendment. I totally understand it. I get it. It's just the process was wrong.”

The ballot initiative, titled Community Rights to a Healthy Environment and Livable Climate, called for Bowling Green 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.”

NEXUS Gas Transmission, a division of Houston-based Spectra Energy, which is now part of Canada’s largest pipeline company, Enbridge, Inc., eyes that property as a key link to its massive plans for a pipeline it is building to transport natural gas extracted by fracking activities in southern Ohio to destinations across the state, into Michigan, and into southwest Ontario. NEXUS has received authorization from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, to build the pipeline.

“NEXUS has received all necessary permits prior to beginning construction in mid-October and remains on track to meet a targeted service date in the third quarter of 2018,” according to a prepared statement issued by company spokesman Adam Parker.

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