Valley County: XL Marks The Spot
Canadian Pipeline Company Preparing Here For Various Possibilities
By: Samar Fay, Courier Editor
Published: Wednesday, August 8th, 2012
TransCanada doesn’t have a presidential permit yet for its Keystone XL pipeline, but the Canadian company is so confident that the project will proceed that it has acquired rights of way and is coordinating with local officials on the use of roads and sites for pipeyards, storage areas for the 42-inch steel pipe that would carry Canadian tar sands oil through the Midwest to Texas.
The Valley County commissioners said Tuesday that TransCanada has hired Morrison-Maierle, a Montana engineering firm that has done many projects in the county, to examine and photograph bridges, culverts and 800 miles of roads to establish a baseline condition of the structures. The roads are being bored every half mile. This will be done again after the pipeline is built. TransCanada will take out bonds on county gravel roads for $20,000 per mile to restore the roads after their 65-ton trucks have finished rolling.
Commissioner Bruce Peterson said Keystone is trying to stockpile pipe this fall and is looking for two or three pipeyards in Valley County and one in Phillips County. Peterson said one possible site is on the old Glasgow Army Air Field, which is now the Glasgow airport.
Another proposed site is the unused extension on Boeing’s runway at St. Marie, where military airplanes used to be parked. This location would require the big trucks to turn from Highway 24 North onto the entrance road to St. Marie and drive on 2.2 miles of blacktop county road to the St. Marie Town Hall, and several blocks farther to the site. The commissioners haven’t decided what damage bond to put on this road. It’s in poor shape now and would certainly crumble under heavy use. County road supervisor Wayne Waarvik has estimated a cost of $1 million to repave the road.
The 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline will enter the United States in Phillips County and run southeast through five Montana counties. A provision has been made for an onramp for Bakken oil produced in North Dakota and Montana. Then the pipeline traverses South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma, headed to oil refineries on the Gulf Coast of Texas. At the moment, the route across the vast Ogalalla aquifer in Nebraska is still in dispute, as TransCanada attempts to appease environmental groups and landowners who are worried about possible oil leakage and contamination of the underground water.
While that part of the pipeline is bogged down, the company and the Obama administration are pushing for a division of the project, so that the section from Cushing, Okla., to Texas could be built, alleviating a bottleneck in oil transportation to the refineries. That section does not require a presidential permit, since it does not cross an international boundary.
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