Enbridge - The EPA and Municipal Governments - Pipeline Easements
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Enbridge - The EPA and Municipal Governments - Pipeline Easements

Lansing : MI : USA | Aug 01, 2010 at 8:24 AM PDT
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A new oil spill is sullying US waters in the northern state of Michigan

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has ordered Enbridge to submit a new River Clean Up Plan by Monday.

An Enbridge Pipeline leaked over 800,000 gallons into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan.

While bashing oil companies is fashionable nowadays and perhaps with reason, there is also blame to go around elsewhere.

While Enbridge will resubmit its River Clean Up Plan to conform with EPA guidelines, there are other easment issues that should be addressed, particularly in Michigan.

It was mentioned to the author on Friday, that an engineer who had been working in Michigan with Enbridge, had commented that each time a pipeline company wants to enter and easement it becomes a court battle .

After a little research, it is pretty obvious that various levels of government, utility providers and land owners work on opposite ends, making maintenance not only expensive, but also difficult.

The linked brief Michigans Metro Act and AT&T: Pipelines, telecoms and cable seems to shed some light on that problem.

In the State of Michigan, the right of local jurisdiction or control of the public right-of-way is guaranteed in the state's constitution of 1963. Section 29 of that document states, in part, "The right of all counties, townships, cities and villages to the reasonable control of their highways, streets, alleys and public places is hereby reserved to such local units of government."

This, of course, has constantly caused conflict and made the effort of going on Easements difficulty, especially for pipelines, which generally need 30 meters, approximately 100 feet (based on Alberta).

While municipalities in Michigan (Lansing) made provision for rail lines, requiring 175 foot set-back for dwellings. Nothing was done for pipelines though.

While Enbridge must be held responsible for its pipelines, the State of Michigan and its municipalities must also get their act together.

According to an AP report incorporated into a CBC news report, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration informed Enbridge in January that it might have violated safety codes by improperly monitoring corrosion in the pipeline.

Where was the follow-up? Six months later the Kalamazoo River is polluted by crude oil.

The status quo is not acceptable.



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Karl Gotthardt is based in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and is an Anchor on Allvoices.
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