Court orders federal agency to explain pipeline decision

CLEVELAND — The nation’s top appeals court has ruled that a federal agency must explain why it approved a pipeline sending substantial quantities of natural gas to Canada and allowed the energy companies to force U.S. citizens to sell property so construction could begin.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia agreed with Oberlin, Ohio, and other plaintiffs Friday that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission failed to justify giving owners of the NEXUS Gas Transmission pipeline credit for gas shipped to Canada to prove the project’s need.

FERC officials declined to comment Tuesday about the ruling.

Opponents long argued it was unlawful for the pipeline owners, Canada’s Enbridge Inc. and Detroit’s DTE Energy, to force U.S. citizens to sell property under legal threat so the 255-mile-long (412-kilometre-long) pipeline stretching across northern Ohio and into Michigan could be built.

Plaintiff attorney Carolyn Elefant told a three-judge panel during oral arguments in May that about one-third of the pipeline’s daily capacity of 1.5 billion cubic feet (40 million cubic meters) per day was being shipped to a massive trading and storage hub in Ontario.

The decision dismissed the remaining claims made by Oberlin and other opponents and allowed the pipeline, which began transporting gas from Appalachian shale fields in October, to remain in service.

FERC attorney Carol Banta told the court in May that 93 per cent of the pipeline was built without using eminent domain.

Judge Robert Wilkins responded: “Even if it’s 1% of eminent domain needed, that’s someone’s property being taken, and that raises constitutional issues.”

Attorney David Mucklow said the decision is a “great victory for enforcing people’s property rights in the United States.”

“It’s going to force FERC to handle these types of cases differently,” Mucklow said, adding that people who sold property after being sued by NEXUS were forced to negotiate “with a gun to their heads.”

Mucklow said the company hired police officers from outside the area to intimidate property owners, many of whom were elderly, to “sign away their rights.” He said he is not aware of a case involving a court sending a project back to FERC for reconsideration.

Pipeline approvals for natural gas exports involve a section of the National Gas Act that FERC failed to consider, he said.

Still, Mucklow is skeptical FERC will do the right thing. If it doesn’t, he said, the plaintiffs could consider returning to the Court of Appeals or filing a class action lawsuit to force NEXUS to renegotiate with people about the price it paid for property.

Just Posted

Man arrested in 2014 drug bust finally getting sentenced

Convicted drug dealer unsuccessfully tried to get case thrown out because of delays

New trail being developed through North Red Deer woods

This forest belt is known for having rough sleeper camps

Moms visit Red Deer’s overdose prevention site

Moms Stop The Harm meet in Red Deer

Lacombe County land dispute to be resolved

Landowners next to new Kuhnen Natural Area feared trespassing and liability issues

Average fall, cold winter ahead, The Weather Network predicts

Canadians can expect average temperatures this fall that will give way to… Continue reading

WATCH: 2019 Canada Winter Games will leave a lasting legacy, say organizers

It leaves Red Deer with the infrastructure and confidence to host future such events

Your community calendar

Wednesday Central Alberta Historical Society annual general meeting is 6 p.m. at… Continue reading

Opinion: City must aim for zero per cent tax hike

Red Deer city council is discussing the benefits of multi-year budgets, which… Continue reading

Rapid rise of co-working providing needed space as big cities feel crunch

TORONTO — When Rahul Raj was ready to move his small but… Continue reading

No Deal: Auto workers strike against GM in contract dispute

DETROIT — More than 49,000 members of the United Auto Workers walked… Continue reading

CREA reports August home sales up from year ago, raises forecast for 2019

OTTAWA — The Canadian Real Estate Association raised its forecast for home… Continue reading

U.S. postal treaty exit would hurt Canadian e-commerce businesses

MONTREAL — U.S. President Donald Trump’s push to withdraw from an international… Continue reading

Saudi Arabian attacks linked to higher oil prices, spark energy stock rally

CALGARY — Higher oil prices spurred by an attack on Saudi Arabian… Continue reading

Health: Are North Americans wimps when it comes to pain?

How do people in other countries handle pain following various surgical procedures?… Continue reading

Most Read