Information on the deliberations and discussions regarding this project by OPSB voting members are not available to NOPE. In the coming months, we expect OPSB to render a decision, either approving Duke's Central Corridor Pipeline application (with or without changes) or declining to approve the application. (Recall, NOPE and other Intervenors do not believe that Duke has provided adequate demonstration of need, nor has Duke chosen the best option for meeting their stated need, given the alternatives.) When the OPSB decision is rendered, Intervenors have an opportunity to request reconsideration of that decision and/or to appeal to the Ohio Supreme Court.
We will let you know when we receive information regarding OPSB's decision.
PUCO Ignores "Safety" in Proposed Pipeline Safety Regulations
NOPE believes that Ohio pipeline safety regulations (OAC 4901:1-16) are inadequate, particularly related to 1) existing and new high-pressure pipelines in High Consequence Areas; 2) expertise, oversight and accountability; and 3) risk identification and prevention/mitigation of pipeline incidents. In February 2019, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) announced a review of Ohio natural gas pipeline safety regulations in the coming year to determine whether regulations should be added, revised, rescinded (19-0047-GA-ORD).
While this seems like a great opportunity to improve public safety around natural gas pipelines, PUCO appears to be biased in favor of the making things easier for the natural gas pipeline industry, rather than making things safer for people. In fact, on August 14th, PUCO submitted proposed revisions to pipeline safety regulations for public comment. Unfortunately, PUCO’s proposal includes a few edits to existing regulations (recommended by industry representatives), but no substantive changes designed to reduce risk to human safety. This despite the fact that in Ohio, there have been repeated major pipeline failures and 3rd party damage to Ohio's natural gas pipelines occur at a rate of about 13 times per day, according to a report by the Common Ground Alliance.
4) fail to include input from anyone responsible for protecting public safety, such as the State Fire Marshall's Association, medical professions, first responders, municipal safety directors, people/organizations responsible for protecting vulnerable populations such as children, minorities, seniors, disabled, etc.
5) PUCO's review is also missing any discussion on safety regulations related to new pipelines.
What to do NOW
1) Make Your Voice Heard at PUCO
Demand changes to the proposed pipeline safety regulations and process. Attached is a list of specific recommendations/requests that could make pipeline safety regulations more effective. Send a letter (refer to case #19-0047-GA-ORD) or use PUCO's comment form. Note, the due date for input is September 27, 2019.
2) Contact your Ohio elected officials
Let your Ohio state representatives and senators know that you are concerned about pipeline safety and expect them to take the time to review and comment upon proposed Ohio pipeline safety regulations. Feel free to share the attached recommendations. Also contact your local government officials, because our municipalities are being forced to bear the financial, safety and resource burdens associated with natural gas pipelines and must have a voice in their regulation.
3) Share information with others who have a responsibility or interest in protecting the public, particularly vulnerable communities, such as children, elderly, sick and disabled, people living in poverty, etc.
The pipeline safety regulations are for all of Ohio, not just our local communities.
4) Stay Tuned
Watch for updates on PUCO's revisions to Ohio Pipeline Safety Regulations and OPSB Decision re: Duke's Central Corridor Pipeline Project
ADJUDICATORY TIMELINE for Duke's Central Corridor Pipeline 3/22/2019 - NOPE and other intervenors submit issue list of areas they might want to cross examinine witnesses 3/29/2019 - Duke submits factual and expert witnesses written testimony 4/2/2019 - Attorneys for NOPE and other Intervenors submit factual and expert witnesses written testimony 4/3/3019 - 4/8/2019 - Attorneys take follow up in person depositions from key witnesses 4/9/2019 - 4/11/2019 - Adjudicatory hearing in Columbus includes submission of all testimony, documents and materials to be included in the case record. Intervening attorneys cross examine selected expert witnesses from Duke and OPSB Staff, to identify and clarify legal issues related to the case. Expert witnesses for NOPE, Cincinnati and Hamiton County testified, and were cross examined by Duke. 5/13/2019 - Post Hearing Briefs filed by all attorneys focused on legal arguments and evidence 6/10/2019 - Response Briefs filed by all attorneys addressing legal arguments/evidence presented by Post Hearing Briefs Summer 2019 Briefs and record submitted and presented to OPSB Decision Makers TBD Petition for Rehearing
TBDAppeal to Ohio Supreme Court