Board learns of pipeline ordinance misinformation

The Montgomery County Board of Supervisors cleared up some misinformation and continued to discuss legal options regarding the proposed Summit Carbon pipeline at its Sept. 27 meeting.
Grant Terry, a Summit Carbon Pipeline Solutions project manager had spoken at a recent meeting of the Montgomery County Planning and Zoning Commission, and at a supervisors meeting, saying that the Shelby County Supervisors Chairman, Steve Kenkel, who helped draft the Shelby County pipeline ordinance, was a member of BOLD Nebraska, an activist group. Jan Norris was the first to defend Kenkel during the public comment period of the meeting.
“If there are any questions about Kenkel’s affiliation, I urge the supervisors to contact the Shelby County Board of Supervisors, or BOLD Nebraska, and ask them, because he is not, and this is misinformation,” Norris said.
Supervisor Donna Robinson also came to Kenkel’s defense, confirming that Kenkel was not a member of BOLD Nebraska.
“Steve Kenkel is definitely not a member of BOLD Nebraska. He has been working on ordinances and doing research on this for probably close to a year, and he was reaching out to get some information and reached out to that group, but he is not a member of them. He also spoke at a seminar, but he was a guest speaker, commenting about what was taking place in Iowa,” commented Robinson.
Supervisors Chair Mark Peterson and Supervisor Randy Cooper attended a public hearing held by the Shelby County Board of Supervisors over the proposed carbon pipeline ordinance on Sept. 23, but the meeting was largely informational, and no action was taken.
Discussion also focused on whether or not the county should hire the services of Ahlers and Cooney to help draft an ordinance for Montgomery County. Supervisor Mike Olson again expressed his opinion against drafting an ordinance, citing legal fees if the issue went into litigation.
“If we end up in court, and this goes on for two or three years, like I feel the opposition to the pipeline wants, who’s going to pay for these legal fees? That’s taxpayer money, not our money. Once you start into litigation in a multi-year fight, that’s going to get expensive. Plus, even if we get into this, it doesn’t matter anyway. They’re going to go by the Iowa Utilities Board guidelines,” stated Olson.
Supervisors Randy Cooper and Charla Schmid again expressed their opinions that the county should pass an ordinance to offer whatever protection they could give to the residents of the county. Cooper said if they didn’t pass an ordinance to save being sued by the pipeline company, they could instead be sued by the county’s residents.
“If we do not put an ordinance in place, kind of like Page County is doing with their wind power, they’re being sued by the citizens. Why couldn’t the citizens sue us? And then we have to ask who’s going to pay for that litigation,” said Cooper.
Schmid stated that they shouldn’t base their entire decision on whether or not they were going to sue. “If they are going to sue us, then they’re bullies. To me, it’s just a fear factor,” commented Schmid.
Peterson said he had conversations with County Attorney Drew Swanson and zoning administrator Barry Byers, who both recommended discussions be held with Tim Whipple with Ahlers & Cooney.
“They recommended I speak with Whipple to make sure that what we’re doing is the right thing. And there’s nothing to say we can’t simply ask him whether we’re just wasting our time,” Peterson said.
Robinson was in agreement with having conversations with Whipple, as this was outside of the area of expertise of both Byers and Swanson. She was also in favor of approving an ordinance.
“Someone once said if we fail to plan, we plan to fail. I think we are planning to do what’s best for the county, and if that means one more step, and bringing in someone who has the right background and knowledge on this, I’m in favor of doing that. If we sit here and say it doesn’t matter, and they’re not going to follow our rules, why do we have people trying to enforce things throughout the county,” Robinson said.
Robinson added that the ordinance would protect the supervisors, the zoning board, and especially, the citizens and residents where the pipeline is going through, and where future pipelines could go through.
Olson remained of the opinion that the Iowa Utilities Board made these types of decisions, and did what they did so that the counties of Iowa wouldn’t be doing what Montgomery County was doing right now.
“I feel that we have no say, per se, that we know of, because of that fact,” Olson said.
Cooper felt the opposite, and felt the IUB wasn’t exactly sure what direction to go either.
“I feel like they are looking for input from the county and the people, which is why they’re holding all these webinars, and letting people listen in and ask questions, and then they’ll take all the information, soak it in, and make a decision,” Cooper stated.

The Red Oak Express

2012 Commerce Drive
P.O. Box 377
Red Oak, IA 51566
Phone: 712-623-2566 Fax: 712-623-2568

Comment Here