Pipeline hearing has large turnout

Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

An open house on Wednesday, March 22, provided operators of the proposed MinnCan Pipeline Project the opportunity to get out as much information as possible about the project. The meeting was held at the New Prague Middle School.

While many of the 170 people who attended did have their questions answered, there were also some who voiced objections about the project.

The meeting was the 12th of 13 meetings around the state that the Minnesota Department of Commerce convened on behalf of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC).

Minnesota Pipe Line Company is proposing the pipeline and has filed a Certificate of Need and Routing Permit applications with MPUC. At Wednesday’s event the company had different stations set up where people could find out information concerning the project’s economic impact, environmental stewardship, agricultural mitigation, engineering and construction and maps with the route of the pipeline.

Larry Hartman of the Minnesota Department of Commerce addressed the audience about the pipeline, as did Larry Van Horn, vice-president of operations for Minnesota Pipe Line and project manager of the MinnCan Project.

The meeting addressed background of the $300 million project that will expand the current pipeline and add a 24-inch pipeline to the company’s existing system. Minnesota Pipe Line owns the system, which is operated by Koch Pipeline Company. The proposed project is to provide a delivery system from Canada and would cross 300 miles of the state, ending at the Flint Hills Resources Refinery in Rosemount. Plans call for the acquisition of right-of-ways this year, with permits, completed designs and other preparation work in 2007 and completion of the pipeline in 2008.

The pipeline would pass by New Prague about one mile from the city’s northern boundary, along Scott County Road 2 and would pass just south of Elko and New Market.

Hartman said other state departments are involved with the project, including those concerning agriculture, natural resources and safety. Once the line route has been established, another public meeting will be held.

Van Horn said that the company would avoid placing the pipeline near homes and use as many current easements as they could. He asked that if people had plans for other easements and roads that they consult with Minnesota Pipe Line if it crossed over the easement for the pipeline.

Many questions dealt with the land the company would need for the pipeline and the payment for the land. It was explained that the practice is to purchase the right-of-way, or easement, needed for the pipeline with a one-time payment. A compensation plan for Scott County hasn’t been tabulated yet, but Minnesota Pipe Line expected to have agents talking with people in three to four weeks.

A few people, who had been at previous meetings, did voice opposition about compensation made in other counties, feeling it hadn’t been enough.

It was also asked how the easement would affect taxes. It was explained that while the landowners would still pay taxes on the land, the company would pay taxes on the pipeline as an asset.

It’s estimated that once operational, the MinnCan Project would generate about $9 million in annual local property tax revenues. Counties where the pipeline would cross would receive a portion of that, depending on the number of pipeline miles in each county and the placement of pipeline-related facilities such as pump stations.

Addressing safety issues, Minnesota Pipe Line has only had one reportable release since 1988, which was 2.4 barrels. The pipeline system would be continuously monitored so that if there were a release it would shut down the system in the area affected.

More information about the MinnCan Project is available at www.MinnCanProject.com or calling toll-free 877-796-7846.

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