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Pipeline now in hands of EPA, Corps

Both sides have had a chance to speak, now it’s up to the government whether the proposed Marathon Ashland LLC.

Friday, November 30, 2001

Both sides have had a chance to speak, now it’s up to the government whether the proposed Marathon Ashland LLC., pipeline is a go.

The last public meeting for the proposed pipeline that would supply refined petroleum products from Kenova, W.Va. to Columbus was held last night at Lancaster High School, and now it’s up to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers to decide whether or not to grant the permits necessary for the construction project.

The pipeline would connect the refinery in Kenova, W.Va. to Columbus, which is one of the fastest growing cities in the midwest. Marathon Ashland Petroleum company officials said the pipeline is needed in order to control gas price spikes in the Columbus area. The company officially states that, "this line will provide a safe, direct, reliable, and cost-effective supply of fuels…to prevent or lessen the frequency and severity of price spikes in the Midwest generally and Ohio specifically."

The company further holds that since Columbus is last in line on the three major pipelines that fuel the midwest, it is even at a greater disadvantage. If built, the new pipeline will have the ability to move 80,000 barrels of different types of fuels daily.

Some people, however, believe the construction of the pipeline will bring about damage to the environment and will open the door for a potential environmental emergency.

The group S.T.O.P, short for "Stop the Ohio Pipeline" states that the company has misrepresented itself to the two governmental agencies by failing to identify certain environmental liabilities.

S.T.O.P spokesman, Columbus attorney Richard Sahli, said the company’s permit applications "are superficial and obviously incomplete and…cannot lawfully be approved by either OEPA or the Army Corps." He added that the applications, "do not appear to be technically based documents as much as they appear to be the products of Marathon-Ashland’s public relations department because they supply only a thin veneer of ‘feel-good’ conclusions without more than a tiny fraction of the substance needed to allow meaningful considerations of this massive and environmentally destructive project."

The organizations calls for the governmental agencies to require the petroleum company to file an environmental impact study as prescribed by the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 instead of the more relaxed environmental assessment.

The Army Corps of Engineers will continue to accept written comments on the matter until Dec 10 at 4:45 p.m. After that time, the matter will go into consideration by the governmental agencies.