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Administrative judge puts pipeline approval on hold.
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NOPE Community:


Approval of Duke's Central Corridor Pipeline has been put on hold  in response to documents filed by NOPE and other Intervenors.

This newsletter provides the following updates:
  • Application for Rehearing filed by Intervenors
  • What happens next
  • Duke's Letters Distributed to Easement Holders
  • How you can help
Applications for Rehearing
At the end of December, Applications for Rehearing were filed by NOPE, Hamilton County, and the cities of Blue Ash, Cincinnati, Evendale and Reading  with OPSB.  In early January, Duke filed a rebuttal to the Intervenors' Applications for Rehearing.  (Click on links to view documents.)

An Application for Rehearing is the first step in appealing the OPSB's decision to approve Duke's Central Corridor Pipeline project (16-253-GA-BTX). 

NOPE and the Municipal Intervenors state that OPSB acted unreasonably and unlawfully in approving Duke's pipeline.  Their arguments, evidence and supporting legal precedent provide compelling reasons for OPSB to reconsider the case.

Here are some of the key points raised by Intervenors:
1) The Board incorrectly applied a standard of "convenience" rather than "need" in evaluating Duke's application and failed to determine whether reasonable alternatives exist.
2) The Board failed to consider probable environmental impacts and determine whether routing decisions represented minimal impact.
2) The Board failed to consider probable environmental impacts and determine whether routing decisions represented minimal impact.
3) The Board incorrectly determined that the pipeline serves the public convenience and necessity, because it did not address legitimate public safety concerns.
4) In reaching their decision, the Board relied on discredited evidence, inadmissible evidence and/or unsubstantiated claims and also disregarded credible evidence that was presented.
5) The Board failed to define the pipeline as a transmission line, rather than a distribution line.
 
Judge Says "Pause" on Project Approval
On January 17th, the Administrative Law Judge for OPSB approved the Intervenors' Application for a Rehearing. 

This ruling is a HUGE WIN for NOPE and our Municipal Intervenors.  It gives OPSB additional time to consider the legitimate legal issues and evidentiary concerns that were raised.  At the same time, OPSB's order issuing the pipeline approval certificate is stayed pending their ultimate decision on whether to grant rehearing
 
In non-legal terms, this means that until OPSB rehearing proceedings have been completed (assuming a rehearing is granted),  Duke does not have approval to begin construction of the Central Corridor Pipeline Project. 
What Happens Next?
At this point, it is up to OPSB voting members to decide whether to conduct a rehearing, and specific issues to be addressed during the rehearing. 

If OPSB voting members agree to rehear the case, the format and timing would be managed by the Administrative Law Judge.  At the end of the rehearing, OPSB can uphold, modify or withdraw their approval Duke's Central Corridor Pipeline Application.  During this process, approval of Duke's Pipeline Application remains on hold. 

If OPSB ultimately stands by their original decision and upholds the approval of Duke's pipeline application, or OPSB refuses to rehear the case, NOPE and Intervenors can take their case that OPSB acted unreasonably and unlawfully in approving Duke's application to the Ohio Supreme Court. 
Given there are several issues related to interpretation and application of the law, the Ohio Supreme Court could be very interested in this case.

NOPE will share more details about the Rehearing as they become available.
Letters from Duke - Check Your Mail
Several people have reported receiving this letter from Duke, notifying them about upcoming pipeline activity.  As in the past, the letter from Duke could be easily discarded as junk mail, because there is no information on the envelope to indicate the letter is pipeline related.  CHECK YOUR MAIL!
It appears that Duke has sent letters to property owners from whom they will need to acquire an easement and residents who rent/lease property where easements will be required.  The letter indicates that Duke representatives will be in the area in the coming months gathering information about properties and/or acquiring easements.

Given the decision rendered by the Administrative Law Judge, the contents of Duke's letter are misleading.  Duke does not have the "green light" to begin project construction.  However, representatives from Duke might still approach easement holders and attempt to get easements.

If you have an attorney we strongly recommend that you ask her or him to assist BEFORE you sign anything.

If you do not have an attorney, please call the Cincinnati Bar Association's Lawyer Referral Service (513-381-8213) and tell them you have a Duke Gas Pipeline easement issue. The Cincinnati Bar Association has selected a panel of lawyers who are willing to assist clients for a fee. These attorneys on the Lawyer Referral Service have agreed to a $50 reduced rate consultation fee for the first half-hour of your consultation.

NOPE does not offer legal advice but cautions owners and renters to recognize that Duke is seeking your permission and you have a right to decline. Whatever you sign for Duke might affect future purchasers of your property and caution is essential.
NEXT STEPS - WE NEED YOU!:
1) Please share this important information with others who might be affected by the Judge's Ruling and Duke's Central Corridor Pipeline Project.  This is particularly important, in light of Duke's misleading letter sent to many members of our communities.  HERE is a downloadable copy of this newsletter for your convenience.
2) Contact decision makers and influencers and insist upon due diligence and an independent evaluation of the laws and evidence presented by Intervenors.  HERE is contact information that may be helpful.
3) Support NOPE.  We need your financial contributions to continue our fight to protect our communities from Duke's unnecessary, irresponsible Central Corridor Pipeline.  NOPE's successes to date could not have been achieved without you.  (Checks payable to NOPE can be sent to NOPE c/o Glenn Rosen, 9228 Bluewing Ter. Cincinnati, OH 45236 or you can contribute via NOPE's gofundme page.)
SPECIAL THANKS:
To our dedicated elected officials who continue to support our communities through legal intervention.  Municipal Intervention is being led by Commissioner Denise Driehaus and Hamilton County Commissioners, Mayor Marc Sirkin and Blue Ash City Council, Mayor Jon Cranley, PG Sittenfeld and Cincinnati City Council, Mayor Richard Finan and Evendale City Council and Mayor Beau Bemmes and Reading City Council. 
Thank you! 
Got Questions?  Contact us at NOPECincy.org@gmail.com
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