The public comment period for the NEXUS pipeline's environmental impact statement has ended, and opponents of the project are crying foul. Banding together, representatives from multiple groups are requesting an investigation into what they deem to be hundreds of forged letters of public comment — all in support of the pipeline project.
Michigan resident Paul Wohlfarth spent much of the last month investigating letters from 14 people that praise the pipeline
(which is set to run in part through Lorain and Medina counties). He said he contacted those people listed as the authors, and what he learned cast doubts upon the record of public comment. In all, Wohlfarth flagged "possibly 200 comment statements" of dubious origin.
"This is an extremely serious matter," attorney Terry Lodge wrote in a filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission this week. "In one instance, the party purportedly signing the letter has been deceased since 1998."
Check out the legal documents below, including all of the letters.
"I believe that the FERC comment docket is viewed by some persons and entities as a popularity contest vote for the NEXUS pipeline," Wohlfarth wrote. "It appears that there is a belief, which may be accurate, that the Commission will take note of total numbers of comments for an against construction of the pipeline. Therefore, it is likely that the docket is being treated as the ballot box for this popularity determination and it is deliberately, intentionally and fraudulently being stuffed by persons or entities unknown for the purpose of boosting the seeming public support for the pipeline."
It remains to be seen what sort of action FERC will take on this matter. The commission will decide whether to approve the project sometime in the first quarter of 2017.