GREEN: After months of silence on the city’s strategy to try to derail the controversial Nexus natural gas pipeline proposal, leaders announced their plans at Tuesday’s City Council meeting. They’re going to court.

The city filed appeals with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s appeals board on Tuesday. They says its the region’s best chance rather than trying to convince the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to block the proposed 255-mile, $2.1 billion project.

The mayor, law director and Council President Chris Humphrey made the announcement in response to concerns that the city had given up on its two-year battle against the pipeline. Thursby Road resident Joe Bologa and others questioned why the city didn’t try to block the FERC certificate of approval.

The EPA action would affect communities in several Ohio counties including Summit, Stark, Medina and Wayne — all of which are in the proposed Nexus pipeline’s path to Canada.

“Today the city of Green filed suit to vindicate our rights,” Humphrey said. “I think it’s very, very important that our citizens be given accurate information. There has been a lot of information that has gone out over email that has been terribly incorrect.”

“The city has … thoughtfully and thoroughly researched its options, retained outside legal counsel with a special team in environmental law and we have been working with them in preparation of filing the litigation that was filed today,” Law Director Diane Calta said. “I hope everyone understands that discussing litigation publicly is just not something that is in the city’s interest.”

The city has always “focused its efforts on the environmental approvals from the Ohio EPA. Our research shows that’s the avenue where there has been success in stopping pipelines,” she said.

Mayor Gerard Neugebauer said similar strategies to the one Green is taking have worked in other states “and some projects have actually been shut down.”

“What I am telling you is that for the dollars we are spending, the route that we [have taken] has the highest probability of getting us into a court and getting us a fair hearing for our community,” he said.

The city has spent more than $67,367 from a pot of $100,000 from the city and $25,000 from Summit County to oppose Nexus.

“We will continue to fight. We have not given an easement yet and don’t plan on giving an easement,” the mayor said. “They [those behind Nexus] have been dishonest to us and they have been dishonest to everybody in this whole process. And we are making them verify every single step of the way, and they are going to have to pry those easements out of my hands.

“It is only going to be through the authority of the federal government that they are going to get those easements to come through the city of Green because this is going to have an impact on our community greater than anything we have ever seen.

“We’re in this fight with you,” Neugebauer said, “… and we’ll continue to fight to the very end whatever that is. And that’s my commitment from my administration and that’s my commitment to every resident of this community.”

After the meeting, Councilman Stephen Dyer expressed disappointment that the city did not file an action with FERC.

“While I appreciate the mayor’s efforts on this pipeline and agree with the lawsuits the administration filed … I am deeply concerned that the mayor and his administration failed to directly oppose the federal agency’s approval of this 36-inch pipe bomb, which FERC has allowed to go through our great city,” Dyer said. “While I understand the extremely low likelihood that this filing would have overturned the certificate, not filing guarantees we have zero chance. We had nothing to lose.”

Dyer said the lawsuit path is “a slap in the face to the countless Green residents who have fought this battle for two years, on their own time without compensation. They are understandably upset. I and other residents urged the administration to make this filing over the last several days, and we worked together to draft a filing that the administration could have just signed and filed.

“Unfortunately, the administration did not reply to these requests until well after the filing deadline.”