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Counties must hire consultant for pipeline

MONTROSE — The Lee County Board of Supervisors was told Monday morning during an informational meeting the county will need to hire a consultant to oversee installation of the proposed Dakota Access pipeline if the project is approved.

County engineer Ernie Steffensmeier said he and engineers from all the counties the pipeline will go through were told last week at the Iowa County Engineers Association meeting the goal is to give private landlords a local contact if they don’t like what they see happening to their land.

“(The consultant) will oversee putting in the pipeline and make sure everything is done as its supposed to be,” Steffensmeier said.

The news came as a shock to the board since they were told at a meeting in early December the counties had no involvement with the pipeline.

“We were told the county wasn’t involved. This is news to me,” supervisor Matt Pflug said.

In related news, Supporters, opponents turn out for Story County pipeline meeting.

The board will not look for a consultant until after the projected $3.78 billion project receives a permit from the Iowa Utilities Board. The board has said it will consider the project next month.

“We’re going to try to protect the people of Lee County’s land to make sure everything is done correctly,” supervisor Ron Fedler said. “Once installation is done, then we’re done.”

All money the counties spend on the consultant will be reimbursed by Energy Transfer Partners.

During a meeting in early December, Energy Transfer Partners vice president of engineering Chuck Frey said the company will compensate all damages done to property owners’ lands, livestock and crops.

The pipeline will go from the Bakken oil fields in North Dakota to Patoka, Ill., and transport crude oil through a 30-inch underground pipeline diagonally across Iowa.

The projected pipeline route would take a line through the Iowa counties of Lee, Van Buren, Jefferson, Wapello, Keokuk, Mahaska, Jasper, Polk, Story, Boone, Webster, Calhoun, Sac, Buena Vista, Cherokee, O’Brien, Sioux and Lyon. Neighboring Illinois counties Hancock and Adams also are projected to carry part of the pipeline.

Officials said contract workers will dig 5 feet below the Mississippi River bed to place the pipe. The pipe will travel from the northwest region of the county diagonally down between Montrose and Keokuk before entering the river. Lee County has the fifth-highest amount of pipe going through an Iowa county at 30 miles.

A permit application is expected to be filed in January, with state authorization later next year. Energy Transfer hopes to build the pipeline in 2016, with it being in full use before that winter.

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