Northeast Ohio residents turn eyes to NEXUS pipeline proposal

Source: The Chronicle-Telegram

GRAFTON TWP. — Residents in Medina County are outspoken in their resistance to the proposed NEXUS gas transmission pipeline cutting across their properties.

The project’s lead developers, Detroit-based DTE Energy Co. and Houston-based Spectra Energy Corp., sent homeowners letters in late August seeking permission to survey for rights-of-way, but people have started questioning the project.

According to the Medina Gazette, 80 people showed up for a grassroots community meeting Thursday concerning the project, more than two times the number that came out for the initial Sept. 11 meeting.

Now that concerns are being vocalized and resistance is being organized, some Lorain County residents want to organize against the proposed natural gas pipeline, which would run through 11 counties in Ohio before heading north into Michigan to deliver natural gas to the Dawn energy hub in Ontario.

Grafton Township resident Faith Costilow said she heard about Guilford Township resident Mario Pascolini’s efforts to resist the pipeline, and she and some of her neighbors plan to attend an Oct. 2 meeting at 6 p.m. at the Medina Library to learn how he’s organizing against it.

“This needs to be put in people’s faces,” Costilow said. “We’re trying to get organized because it seems that this is being done as quietly as possible. I’m trying to get more people to go from our area.”

Pascolini, a retired CPA in his 70s, when reached by phone Tuesday, said he never expected to become an activist, but he’s fed up with corporations trampling on his rights.

“When I got that letter it was like a punch in the gut,” he said. “We’re in a rural area out here that’s like a little piece of heaven.”

But the organizer said he will put up a fight to protect his property, and the 80 other people he’s gathered are willing to do the same.

“We’re a little tired of being pushed around,” Pascolini said. “Oil companies tell you what the gas price is, and to buy it or don’t buy it. Food prices are going up, and now a pipeline is coming in. What they’re really saying is, ‘You can’t do anything about it.’ But the people have the power in this country. It’s not about ‘We the Corporations’, it’s about ‘We the People.’ This is the first time in my life that I’m fighting for my rights.”

Pascolini said he’s received calls from as far as west as Toledo asking how to organize. The first step is simple, he said.

“Do not sign the survey letter and start to organize the neighborhood,” Pascolini said. “We just want to have an individual choice — we’re not interested in the surveys, we’re not interested in compensation — we’re interested in diverting the pipeline.”

Pascolini said he is opposed to the pipeline because he believes it will lower property values. But he’s also concerned a 36-inch high-pressure line running across his property is a safety hazard.

“If this thing blows, it’s going to kill everybody in the neighborhood,” he said.

Arthur Diestel, a spokesman for NEXUS, said he understands the concern of residents and safety will not be underestimated.

“Our safety record is our license to operate,” Diestel said.

Diestel declined to comment on the number of letters sent to homeowners seeking right-of-way grants but did say the project is in the initial stages. Energy regulatory commissions have not been approached regarding the project and construction won’t begin for several years, he added.

“This is a long process, and we want to be available to answer questions,” Diestel said.

Diestel said the pipeline will be supplied with gas from shale fields in Pennsylvania and Ohio, as well as numerous sources from other traditional natural gas suppliers as far away as the Gulf Coast.

“We’re an open-access pipeline,” Diestel said. “What that means is the government mandates if we have space on our pipeline for gas, and that gas meets stringent safety standards, we are required to move that gas.”

Although he would not comment specifically as to whether the NEXUS pipeline will provide gas for the NRG Power Plant in Avon Lake, which is also building a pipeline with the intent of converting from coal to natural gas, Diestel said the NEXUS line has the potential to supply power plants.

“This pipeline is intended for power generation, local distribution to consumers and manufacturing,” he said, although he could not offer specifics.

Costilow said she’s been approached by Spectra Energy right-of-way specialists, but she refuses to give them permission to survey her land.

“I’m not allowing them on my property,” Costilow said. “We need to convince them they need to go somewhere else with their grand ideas and money-making schemes, because I’m sure it all comes down to the almighty dollar.”

Diestel said Spectra Energy has a 90 percent success rate in reaching agreements with property owners over rights-of-way for pipelines, but eminent domain can be utilized if necessary.

Pascolini said he has solicited the help of Maurice Thompson, a Columbus-based lawyer and executive director of the 1851 Center for Constitutional Law, who plans to provide pro-bono services for all landowners wishing to keep the pipeline off their properties.

“Maurice will handle all the cases across Medina County and other areas,” Pascolini said.

Those interested in contacting Pascolini for additional information can reach him at (330) 769-2322. The next community meting will be 6 p.m. Oct. 2 at the Medina Library, 210 S. Broadway St.

For information regarding the NEXUS pipeline, a 24-hour hotline is available at (844) 589-3655 or at