While city and town governments don’t have direct control over Duke’s pipeline proposal, that doesn’t mean they have no influence. Mainly, there are three ways that municipalities can get involved:
Written opposition: Municipalities can publicly oppose the pipeline and send their concerns to Duke and the Ohio Power Siting Board. These are largely symbolic gestures, but they signal to Duke, to the state of Ohio, and to residents that the pipeline is not wanted here. This is the baseline effort that local elected officials should take in opposing the pipeline.
Outreach: As leaders of the community, local officials can help inform residents about the pipeline and stir up opposition. Outreach efforts can include sending letters to residents and business owners, speaking with the press, putting up signs, printing flyers, and hosting Town Hall meetings.
Formal intervention: In Siting Board cases, formal intervention is somewhat similar to filing a lawsuit, and local governments automatically have the right to do so. Intervening parties gain access to all case documents, can participate in case proceedings (for instance, by presenting and cross-examining witnesses), and have the right to appeal the Siting Board’s decision. Formal intervention requires legal counsel, making it a significant commitment of resources on the part of local governments.
What Is My Local Government Doing, and Is It Enough?
So far, several municipalities have filed written opposition with the Ohio Power Siting Board:
- Amberley Village
- Blue Ash
- City of Cincinnati
- Deer Park
- Golf Manor
- Pleasant Ridge
- Sycamore Township
In terms of outreach, here are some examples of how local governments have informed their constituents:
- Golf Manor provided facilities at no cost for NOPE’s second Town Hall, hosting roughly 200 residents who came to learn about Duke’s pipeline proposal.
- Evendale hosted another Town Hall for roughly 300 residents and printed hand-out materials.
- Sycamore Township sent letters to all of its 20,000 residents, and to all businesses within 1,000 feet of the proposed pipeline routes. The letters included a copy of Sycamore’s written opposition and a routing map.
- Blue Ash included a mention of the pipeline proposal in its town-wide newsletter and on its Facebook page.
As for intervention, both the City of Cincinnati and Blue Ash filed a motion to take all possible actions to keep the pipeline out of densely-populated areas, including formal intervention if necessary. (While not a municipal government, Hamilton County Commissioners are making similar arrangements.)
NOPE recognizes that not all municipalities have the resources to intervene on their own. Our hope is that all affected cities and towns can work together on a legal strategy to oppose the pipeline, with larger cities taking the lead.
What Can I Do to Get My Local Government Involved?
The best way to get your local elected officials’ attention is to speak up. Call, write letters, and organize groups to attend governments’ public meetings. Acknowledge any efforts your government has taken so far, but urge elected leaders to do more, and if they are unwilling, ask why.
To find your local government contact, head to NOPE’s letter-writing page and enter your address. You’ll then have the option to write to your local leaders and other elected officials.