Walworth County Board to consider pipeline resolution

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Monday, September 1, 2014

ELKHORN—A Walworth County supervisor wants more information about a plan to move more crude oil through the area.

On Thursday, the Walworth County Board will consider a resolution asking the Department of Natural Resources to do a full environmental assessment before allowing the Alberta-based energy company, Enbridge, to increase the flow through its Wisconsin pipelines.

District 2 Supervisor Charlene Staples initiated the resolution in response to constituent concerns about the pipeline and what she perceives as a lack of information about the issue.

“I just want more information,” Staples said. “That shouldn't be so frightening.”

Enbridge hopes to complete upgrades to four pumping stations in 2014 as part of a project to increase its ability to move crude oil from Canada and North Dakota to refineries in the Great Lakes region. A second phase of pump station upgrades is planned for 2015.

One of those pipelines, the Delavan Station, is located on Highway 59 in northeast Rock County.

It's not the pipeline that's new.  It's the plan to use it up to its capacity.

 The pipeline, which has been in operation since 2009, has been carrying about 400,000 barrels per day. The company wants to increase the pipeline's capacity to 1.2 million barrels per day.

The Jefferson County's Board has already passed a resolution asking for an additional environmental assessment. The Dane County Board asked the DNR to reject the air quality permit needed for the project.

Enbridge spokeswoman Becky Haase said the line traveling through Walworth County would not be affected by plans for increased flow.

However, a line running parallel to Walworth County's western border will be affected. In many places, the line is less than a half-mile from the county line.

Supporters see the Wisconsin pipeline and the proposed Keystone XL pipeline from western Canada to the Gulf Coast as tools to further reduce dependence on oil imported from outside the North American continent.

In a previous interview, Jefferson County Supervisor Walt Christensen acknowledged that the pipeline was built to handle 1.2 million barrels per day, but then added: “That was six years ago, and since then we've seen a lot of pipeline failures.”

The largest of these was a 2010 spill that dumped more than 800,000 gallons of crude oil into wetlands, a creek and the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.

The National Transportation Safety Board blamed the company for failing to follow its own safety protocols.

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