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Fred Blume, Published March 17 2014

Letter: Pipeline company stonewalls

Winona LaDuke’s March 9 column in The Forum regarding Enbridge pipelines is appropriate. Land I own in Tatman Township, Ward County, N.D., is on the proposed route for what was called the Sandpiper Project.

While I am to be paid for an easement, questions I’ve asked since last June and July have not been answered. Of concern to me were river crossings on the proposed route, in view of prior Enbridge pipeline problems in valleys with streams, creeks and rivers. The proposed route crosses the Souris or Mouse River upstream of Minot, but below the Lake Darling Dam, and crosses the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers flood control project above Minot. The route proceeds east, about a mile from Minot Air Force Base and crosses the flight path off the main runways. Later, it crosses Egg Creek, upstream of North Lake, which connects to Buffalo Lodge Lake, then crosses the Mouse or Souris River again, but, this time, directly upstream of the National Wildlife Refuge.

I asked Enbridge representatives for an indication of even a letter of support or a letter acknowledging awareness of the pipeline project from the corps, the air base, the Department of Defense, Homeland Security, the National Wildlife Refuge or their parent agencies. The Ward County hazard mitigation draft document on the website places all of these public infrastructure and taxpayer financed projects in the area within the one to 5-mile “risk” or hazard mitigation zones.

In addition, there are tens of thousands of residents in the risk areas in the Mouse River Watershed alone. My property is zoned as a “no build” and no development zone by Ward County planners. It is the Air Force base main runway flight path.

Last July, I advised Enbridge representatives I could not sign off on permission to survey my land without an indication of an agreement in principle by the affected jurisdictions. Why should I go through the process if there were no agreement in principle with the route? The company filed court actions against me, requesting and winning a temporary restraining order and court order granting access to my land and permission to survey. The restraining order was granted despite the fact I live in another state about 600 miles away. The questions I asked are still unanswered.

At one point they did provide some information that North Dakota state government proceedings overrule county proceedings on the issue of this public utility, hazard mitigation, zoning and route siting.

It is an irony the “public good” of a corporate entity could place large numbers of citizens and public taxpayer paid infrastructures at risk of hazard mitigation. It is not as if there were no alternative routes that could avoid river crossings, the risks to public infrastructure and population centers, and still arrive near the Clearbrook, Minn., destination. A route could parallel the Laurentian Divide. In fact, such a route could run from within Canada, with additional and optional side branches into Nebraska, all with no river crossings. There may even be existing utility corridors already present along this route.

Further advantages to North Dakota for this route choice would be more construction miles within the state, more tax revenue for North Dakota counties, and less Minnesota routing.

Blume lives in Coon Rapids, Minn.