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Great Lakes Article:

Environmental group tries to stop pipeline




By Nathan Leaf
Enquirer Columbus Bureau
08/29/2002         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 Ohio.

        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 said.

        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.

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