County endorses proposed pipeline route
Commissioners were unanimous on Tuesday in their support of a proposed pipeline route slated to cut across Carlton County. Board members passed a resolution indicating their continued support for the current Sandpiper Pipeline route as proposed b...
Commissioners were unanimous on Tuesday in their support of a proposed pipeline route slated to cut across Carlton County.
Board members passed a resolution indicating their continued support for the current Sandpiper Pipeline route as proposed by the North Dakota Pipeline Company (aka Enbridge Energy). The resolution came at the request of County Coordinator Dennis Genereau, who stated that a report has been submitted to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, outlining eight system alternatives that have been proposed in regard to the pipeline project.
Genereau explained that a “system alternative” varies from a “route proposal” in that it represents a significant change in the route of the pipeline that doesn’t include one or both of the company’s proposed end points, in this case, the Clearbrook and Superior terminals.
On the other hand, Genereau said, “route proposals” generally only represent changes of a few miles and represent alternatives to the route between the two terminals.
Some 1,090 comments regarding Enbridge’s route permit were received during the most recent public comment period, which came to a close in late August. Of those, eight separate system alternatives emerged, most involving routing the pipeline far north or far south of Enbridge’s proposed route. One of them proposes angling the pipeline route north along Lake Superior to Canada and coming back down the other side, returning to Superior from the east. Another proposes avoiding the northern lakes area altogether by following the existing Viking Natural Gas Pipeline through Clay, Becker, Ottertail and other southern counties. Yet another proposes following existing road rights-of-way and areas without extensive water resources for an added total of 340 miles.
Commissioners mutually agreed that since Enbridge has already made concessions to its original route plan based on concerns of county residents, and because the proposed pipeline project represents an investment of $2.5 billion in Minnesota - and significant annual property taxes as well - that the county is in support of the currently proposed route. The resolution to that effect also urges the PUC to adhere to an “efficient permitting process” in its consideration of the project.
Genereau said the PUC is slated to consider the proposed system alternatives to the pipeline route at its meeting on Thursday, Sept. 11, slated for 10:30 a.m. in St. Paul.
Enbridge spokesman Barry Simonson, who was in attendance at Tuesday’s Carlton County Board meeting, said Thursday’s meeting will be “a very critical day” for the project in order to stay on track for hearings scheduled for January and February 2015. Fellow Enbridge representative Jim Watts reminded commissioners that the company has had an 85-87 percent success rate in its easement acquisition process for the proposed pipeline route thus far, with the majority of the holdouts located in the Hubbard County area, suggesting that a radical change in routing at this point would likely set the project back significantly.
In a related matter, commissioners voted unanimously in support of a conditional use permit requested by North Dakota Pipeline Company to utilize 10 acres of land leased from Barb and Doug Omar in Twin Lakes Township as a materials storage yard for the pipeline project. The request was approved with eight conditions attached regarding such matters as hours of operation (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.), lighting restrictions and excessive road repairs as a result of the activity.
A conditional use permit was also granted to Douglas Rilea to utilize land owned by him in Kettle River to operate an auto and light- to medium-duty truck repair business with occasional farm equipment repair and welding. The permit includes 11 conditions, limiting the number of vehicles awaiting repair to eight at any one time, requiring off-street parking for vehicles awaiting repair, prohibiting junk or salvage vehicles, limiting repairs to inside the building and limiting hours of operation to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Finally, the board passed a resolution accepting an additional 150 signatures to be added to a petition submitted earlier objecting to a proposed assembly ordinance that would require private landowners in most of the county’s townships to apply for a permit before holding large events on their land.