group tries to stop pipeline
By Nathan Leaf
COLUMBUS An environmental
group fired its first shots Tuesday in its legal fight to
stop the construction of an oil pipeline that would cross
several wetlands, parks and nature preserves in southeastern
Richard Sahli, an attorney for Stop The
Ohio Pipeline (STOP), filed an environmental appeal and
two lawsuits in a state and U.S. court claiming federal
and state agencies broke the rules when they gave Marathon
Ashland Petroleum permission to build a 149-mile pipeline
from West Virginia to Columbus.
The lawsuits are intended to force the state
to do an environmental impact study and make Marathon
consider other routes.
Mr. Sahli said those things should have
been done before Marathon began construction this month.
It was as though Marathon's own lawyers
were calling the shots in Ohio government, Mr. Sahli
Marathon company executives and state officials
say they didn't do anything wrong and that all the appropriate
rules were obeyed.
We feel that we issued an environmentally
sound permit or we wouldn't have issued it, EPA
spokesman Jim Leach said.
Construction of the pipeline began Aug.
19 and is scheduled for completion next spring. The 14-inch
pipe through eight Ohio counties is designed to deliver
80,000 barrels of gasoline, kerosene, diesel or jet fuel
to a Columbus tank yard every day.
Marathon company project manager Donald
Malarky said the pipeline would help meet demand for fuel
in central Ohio.
He added that there was nothing wrong with
how the project got the green light.
It was reviewed and given its due
consideration, Mr. Malarky said.
But Mr. Sahli said the pipeline isn't needed
because existing pipelines are already more than enough
to meet demand in the region. Members of his group also
fear the pipeline could rupture or leak. Even if it does
not leak, they argue it could cause soil erosion and otherwise
damage Ohio's rural countryside.