We the People Take Action–and Win

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Ordinary people often feel powerless against the forces who attempt to run roughshod over us and our communities.

Every once in a while we deserve a chance to speak our minds and enjoy at least a small victory, don’t we?

The people of one Ohio city got a chance to be heard and experience a victory recently. Bowling Green City Council voted unanimously to deny an easement for the Nexus natural gas pipeline to be built across city property near their water treatment plant on the Maumee River. The builders have threatened to use eminent domain to take land for the pipeline, but, in order to gain this power, they will have to prove the benefits of their pipeline to the communities whose lands they wish to grab. Most acknowledge this victory to deny access to city land is but the start of a long, drawn-out–and possibly costly–legal struggle for the city of Bowling Green.

But, as of today, the residents of this small Midwestern city (home of Bowling Green State University (“BGSU”)) can breathe a bit easier. More than 150 attended the council meeting to voice their opinions and chant their opposition to the Nexus. Town and campus dwellers alike expressed their reservations against a pipeline crossing the Maumee so close to their water supply. Undergraduate Student Government at BGSU passed a resolution asking the city to deny the easement. Concerned citizens from across the state, many living along the proposed Nexus pathway, came to express their opinions and give thanks to the city of Bowling Green for taking the first step in halting its construction.

The Nexus pipeline builders promised $151,000 in payment for an easement of 29 acres of city-owned land. What Rust Belt city wouldn’t jump at this kind of money in this day and age of ever-dwindling tax bases? Answer: a city that has done its homework thoroughly. City Council members stated they held reservations about accepting the offer, because a possible pipeline break would cause millions of dollars in damage to Bowling Green’s water supply and infrastructure, which residents would have to pay to repair in the form of higher taxes. Profits from the natural gas from the Nexus pipeline project will not remain in the area; the terminus of the pipeline is located in Ontario, Canada, where the liquefied gas will be sold to overseas markets. Even more disturbing, respected local geologist Dr. Bob Vincent has asked for a study of the ground along the Maumee River where the Nexus is slated to be built, as a fault line in the area could potentially shake and rupture the pipeline.

As each council member gave his or her vote and the reason behind it, cheers arose from the overflow crowd standing outside the building listening via a live stream video. With a twenty-second delay on the live stream, the cheering was somewhat delayed, causing moments of laughter in an otherwise somber meeting. “This is what democracy looks like!” the overflow crowd chanted once it became apparent that the pipeline easement was to be denied.

One activist’s sign said it well: “Nexus Pipeline: Private Profits–Socialized Costs.” The people of Bowling Green and Wood County would be forced to clean up the mess in the event of a pipeline break or explosion, while profits generated from the fracked gas are likely destined for offshore banks. Area farmers have expressed fears over ruined top soil from buried pipelines as well, soil that would take decades to regain its ability to grow crops–if it ever could become fertile again–denying income for rural residents and further weakening the tax base.

Potentially poisoned water and destroyed top soil… Is it worth a token payment that could never cover the costs of replacing our natural resources? For certain, the Nexus pipeline builders have more tricks up their sleeves, but, this time, we the people have decreed, “Enough is enough! We will continue to fight for a cleaner, greener future with renewable energy.” With wind farms and solar panel manufacturing happening nearby, why should we go backwards?

Bio: Cindy A. Matthews is a freelance writer, novelist and editor of Our Revolution Continues blog: http://bernie2016.blogspot.com