Bats and energy developers could be at odds in NEXUS pipeline project

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KENSINGTON, Ohio (WKBN) – Two kinds of bats are causing problems for a $2 billion project running through Columbiana County, and approval of construction for a major gas pipeline could depend on the flying mammals.

The federally threatened long-eared bat and the federally endangered Indiana bat might help opponents of the NEXUS Pipeline.

The pipeline is planned to be built from the shale fields of West Virginia westward through northern Ohio, including Columbiana County and into Michigan and Canada.

NEXUS awaits the Energy commission’s approval before construction can begin.

“Energy infrastructure like the NEXUS pipeline is a critical component for seeing the Utica shale play continue to be developed in Ohio,” said Jackie Stewart, state director of energy Indepth -Ohio. 

The bats that could stand in the way of the project live in trees along the planned route during the spring, summer and fall. The safety of wildlife is a top priority for regulators.

“A wise use of resources is a good thing I feel. Definitely want to take precautions when doing different kinds of pipelines or any type of building,” said Jason Reynolds, wildlife conservationist. “If they are going to clear trees- cutting certain times of the year so they are not roosting so you are not causing harm to them,”

That means the pipeline could go in, the bats don’t have to be harmed, and money from the project would go to local communities.

“The NEXUS pipeline in particular, United Local Schools would be looking at $18 million in five years,” Stewart said.

There is no set timetable for the Federal government to approve the pipeline.

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