Activists are using a threatened species of bat in a last-ditch effort to kill off a multi-billion natural gas pipeline.
Ohio’s northern long-eared bats, which are classified as a threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, are preventing Houston-based Spectra Energy and Detroit’s DTE Energy from receiving an approval to build the 255-mile long NEXUS pipeline.
The bats nest in trees on the NEXUS pipeline route during spring and summer. Their threatened status prevents developers from cutting down trees near the project’s path between April 1 and Sept. 30.
NEXUS opponents hope the bats can cause enough of a delay to prevent construction.
“Time is our friend and their foe,” Jon Strong, an Ohio resident and pipeline opponents, told reporters.
The project, once completed, is expected to shuttle 1.5 billion cubic feet of gas per day from the shale fields of Appalachia into Michigan and Canada.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an environmental impact statement finding no problems with the pipeline’s proposed route. The company behind the NEXUS pipeline is now awaiting the commission’s final approval before it starts construction on the $2 billion line – the approval is in doubt, however, as FERC is down a key committee member.
FERC, which regulates the country’s natural gas pipeline projects, lost a key commission member. That lost prevents it from acquiring a quorum on contentious pipelines like NEXUS. President Donald Trump elevated a member to head FERC, causing the demoted member to retire and leave the committee with only two panelists.
The commission ruled the alternative routes proposed by the city of Green held no environmental advantages over the one proposed by NEXUS.
Another resident and pipeline opponent, Paul Gierosky, devoted time convincing FERC that the route should be moved south to farmland where the existence of a pipeline carrying potentially explosive natural gas would have less effect on people’s lives.
“This has become more of a mission and passion when you see such a horrible wrong and such a screwed-up process,” he said. “It’s become a calling.”
Trump’s decision to approve the highly contentious Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota prompted environmentalists to attack nearly every ongoing pipeline project under discussion.
They are targeting financial institutions that back pipelines. Citi Group and TD Bank of Canada, for example, are being pressured by activists to stop backing Energy Transfer Partners, the company responsible for constructing the DAPL.
Environmentalists and Standing Rock Sioux tribe members believe the project could poison Standing Rock’s water supply – it runs underneath Lake Oahe.
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