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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • Commissioners approve easements for pipeline project

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  • As the proposed Tallgrass Pony Express Pipeline makes its way from the Dakotas to Oklahoma, it could pass through Harvey County, and across some land owned by the city of Newton. At their meeting Tuesday, city commissioners approved granting access to that land, with a few conditions.City Attorney Bob Myers said this system would be used to move oil, natural gas and related products from production sites in North and South Dakota to Cushing, Okla., a national hub for the transportation of crude oil.“This is helping fuel our industries and homes," he said. "This is a way to route crude that’s got to go somewhere.”The Tallgrass Pony Express Pipeline (formerly the Kinder Morgan Pony Express Pipeline) originally was built in the 1950s as an oil pipeline, and then was converted to a natural gas pipeline in 1996. The proposed project will convert the Pony Express Pipeline back to transporting oil and will expand the pipeline down through Kansas to Cushing, Okla.The project involves converting 430 miles of existing pipeline from natural gas to oil, as well as constructing a 260-mile pipeline extension. The pipeline will have a volume of an estimated 230,000 to 320,000 barrels per day and will carry light, sweet crude.The proposed route for the pipeline crosses two tracts of agricultural land owned by the city, which are used for the disposal of sludge from the wastewater treatment plant and also leased to a tenant who farms that ground.The city will be allowed to continue to make use of this property and asked that the pipeline be placed no less than 36 inches deep. Previously, the pipeline may have been placed only 24 inches deep, and city officials felt this was too shallow a depth considering the city's planned use of the property.The city will receive $21,570 in compensation for the easement across section 25 (24th Street and Cow Palace), and $17,709 for the easement across section 31 (36th Street and Meridian). The city also will receive $600 for the right to put in a temporary access road across a portion of section 31.No official construction timeline for the project has been announced yet.Commissioner Jim Nickel was concerned having the pipeline run through the properties could cause difficulties if a person chose to develop those properties at a later point in time.“What does it do to the value of it?” he said.Myers said other pipelines in area haven’t caused problems. Although people can't build on top of the easement, they could build around it.“We haven’t seen any issues," he said.Myers said he did not have any major safety concerns about the project. The company is seeking the cheapest — but also the safest — route, and they will have to comply with state and federal regulations.“I feel very comfortable that the risk on this is extremely negligible," he said.“There are certain safety standards that they have to follow," Commissioner Ken Hall added. "… It’s not in their best interest for this thing to blow up, either, and cause a lot of damage." 

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