Despite Gov. Scott Walker’s signature on the 2015-17 biennial budget which included a provision that counties couldn’t force pipeline companies to purchase additional insurance, opponents still plan to fight the expansion of Enbridge Corporation’s plans to increase its flow on a line through eastern Dane County.
Opponents are expected to fight the expansion when Dane County officials are expected to take up an appeal on the matter at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 16.
The budget provision prohibits counties or towns from requiring additional insurance for interstate pipeline companies if comprehensive general liability insurance includes sudden and accidental pollution liability. Additional insurance requests could not be placed on conditional use permits.
In April, the Dane County Zoning and Land Regulations (ZLR) Committee required Enbridge to have $25 million of environmental impairment liability insurance to get a conditional use permit to upgrade a pumping station in the Town of Medina.
The Canadian based company plans to double the volume of tar sand oil being transported through the county on Line 61 that runs from Superior to northern Illinois.
Enbridge has filed an appeal to the county’s additional insurance requirement.
Opponents of the pipeline expansion said the ZLR’s decision three months ago can’t be grandfathered into law. The ruling still stands despite the change of law through the budget process.
Bruce Noble of Madison, an advocate against the expansion, rode his bike from Marshall to the pumping station in the town of Medina Monday. He, along with his wife Amy, and two other opponents took the trip.
The Enbridge project is still valid before the ZLR, Harry Bennett of Madison said. It is difficult to write a law that is retroactive, he said. He called the law damaging.
Last week, Dane County Chairwoman Sharon Corrigan, who disagreed with the budget provision, said it is another case of the state trying to take control out of local government. She said the insurance requirement was put in place to protect the local impacted areas.
The county hired an insurance expert who advised the county to ask for the environmental insurance. Opponents say $25 million is still not enough to cover the cost of a spill, citing the company’s spill in the Kalamazoo River in Michigan which cost more than $1 billion to clean up.
Enbridge lawyers argue federal laws govern the interstate pipeline safety and the county’s decision for the additional insurance is shutting down the expansion of the entire line.
On July 8, members of the Sierra Club and 350 Madison demonstrated outside the governor’s office in Madison to protest the pipeline provision in the state budget bill. They claim Enbridge’s lobbyists pushed for the amendment to the budget.
“The insurance is still in play,” Bennett said.
“Don’t hold your breath on how soon the enhancements will happen at the pumping station,” Noble said.