LCO Members Visit Enbridge Integrity Dig Site; Council Releases Timeline of Negotiation Process
Enbridge officials show tribal members site where the pipeline was once exposed.
Several tribal members accompanied LCO Chairman Louis Taylor and council member Tweed Shuman on a visit to the Enbridge Line 6A integrity dig taking place just off Right of Way Road in the southwest corner of the Lac Courte Oreilles Reservation.
Officials from Enbridge Energy Partners showed the members the area where the digs took place on Thursday, October 19, the last day of the project and answered questions about why the dig took place and the safety measures in place regarding the two lines that cross the reservation.
Safety inspectors explained to the members that the reason the two integrity digs took place at this site were the result of microscopic hairline cracks detected in the pipe by Enbridge’s inline inspection tool, known as “Pig,” a highly complex machine that is sent through the pipes regularly, inspecting the pipe millimeter-by-millimeter, with a level of detail similar to that provided by MRIs, ultrasound, and X-ray technology in the medical industry.
Enbridge did an integrity dig at each spot where the hairline cracks were detected, less than a hundred feet apart, and, according to a safety inspector on site, “a concrete pipe sleeve was welded around the pipe in the area of the crack and there wasn’t any leak in the pipe, nor was the integrity of the pipe ever in question.”
“Enbridge takes the safe operation of our pipelines very seriously,” the inspector said. He added that the Pig is sent through the pipelines on regular intervals, for example, the Pig that detected the two cracks at this site was sent through two years ago and since then, the Pig has been through twice.
Another 100 feet up the line from the integrity digs, a small portion of the pipe was exposed, first noticed by tribal hunters who alerted LCO tribal government. They notified Enbridge and asked them to cover the exposed pipes.
Enbridge also put a sleeve around part of that exposed Line 6A that showed some corrosion from being exposed. The Enbridge safety inspectors explained the reason for the exposure is because that part of the line runs through some wetlands and most likely due to the heavy rains in recent years, the ground was washed away.
The Enbridge officials told the members that the area where the three jobs took place will look better than prior to the digs within a year.
Once the work is done, the area of the excavation is backfilled, the affected landscape is restored and the mats used for the equipment over the wetlands is removed and the company takes them back to their yard,” the official explained.
He said every step is taken to ensure the area is restored to its natural pristine setting. He said inspectors will return next year to make sure the landscape is restored.
LCO Realty Officer, Nita Kemp, said Enbridge has been very great at communicating with the tribe in-regards-to inspection and maintenance of the line. She said they contact her regularly about the line and when they are going to perform routine maintenance, such as the integrity digs that took place here.
One inspector told Chairman Taylor that it’s rare when an actual leak is detected in the pipes, and none have ever been detected in this particular area of the line through the reservation. He said leaks that have been detected are normally a very small drop that may fill a teacup over a year. Because of their inline inspection technologies, any anomalies are discovered quickly and repaired before they become a hazard, he added.
The section of the pipe where these integrity digs took place is part of the 3.6 miles of Line 6A and Line 14 that run through the LCO Reservation southwest corner, an easement that was just renewed by the LCO Tribe granting Enbridge the right-of-way to operate the pipes for the next 25 years.
Under the 25-year agreement, Enbridge will make an initial payment of 3.6 million dollars to the tribe followed by another payment of 3.6 million dollars in 2018 and 2019. For the remainder of the term, Enbridge will pay 2.2 million annually adjusted each year by changes in the consumer price index reflecting percentage increases for the remainder of the term, for an estimated total of $70,857,764.
The tribe and Enbridge had been negotiating the deal for the past year. The current 50-year lease expired in September of 2018.
Timeline of Negotiations
Tweed Shuman said he wanted the tribal membership to know that the negotiations with Enbridge began September 26, 2016, when Enbridge officials approached the previous tribal council about renewing the easement.
“Tribal leadership didn’t just act abruptly,” Shuman said. “We had five community meetings and asked the public to come. We also invited members to a tour of the Edgewater Pump Station and our members were invited to Marshall, MI, site of the Kalamazoo River spill, to see what Enbridge has done to clean-up.”
Shuman said the people of LCO elected him to make decisions. “Everywhere I go I am asking the members, ‘how do you feel about the pipeline,’ or ‘what do you think,’ and I think most people support the decision.
“I’ve gone to every Enbridge negotiation,” Shuman said. “This new council has dug right in and learned all about it. We got all these assurances from them. We made them pay us the entire length of the lease when they suggested not paying if there wasn’t oil through the line anymore. We negotiated for more money up front by getting them to pay the 7.2 million because they wanted it to be less.
Shuman provided DrydenWire.com with a timeline of the Enbridge easement and negotiations.
- 1968 – Enbridge purchases 80 acres of land for Edgewater Pump Station
- 1968 – Enbridge constructs Line 6A
- 1/7/1997 – LCO passes resolution to approve ROW for Line 14
- 1998 – Enbridge obtains BIA easement and constructs Line 14
- 2008 – Enbridge and LCO fail to negotiate Lines 13 and 61
- 2009 – Enbridge obtains permits and constructs Line 61 outside LCO Reservation boundaries
- 2010 – Enbridge obtains permits and constructs Line 13 outside LCO Reservation boundaries
- 9/26/2016 – Enbridge asks TGB to enter into negotiations for easement renewal
- 12/9/2016 – Edgewater Pump Station tour takes place
- 12/9/2016 – First negotiations meeting for easement renewal
- 3/13/2017 – Enbridge and LCO enter into memorandum of agreement to cover staff time and reasonable costs associated with negotiations
- 6/7/2017 – Trip to Marshall, MI with some TGB, faculty from college
- 8/5/2017 – Elder’s group meeting
- 8/25/2017 – Community meeting at LCO Casino
- 9/5/2017 – Community meeting at LCO Casino
- 9/6/2017 – Community meeting in Milwaukee
- (dates unknown) – two more community meetings held at LCO
- 9/21/2017 – Elder trip to Marshall, MI
- 9/28/2017 – Integrity dig site visit and Pump Station tour
- 10/10/2017 – LCO TGB passes resolution and signs easement agreement
- 10/19/2017 – Another integrity dig visit
- dates to be determined – Enbridge submits easement permit application to BIA and approval of the easement by the BIA
Shuman remarked about the $20,000 monthly payment made to the tribe by Enbridge to cover costs for the tribe during the negotiations saying it was important for the membership to know this agreement was approved unanimously by all 7 members of the previous council in March of 2017, and that the payment went retroactive to October of 2016.
Chairman Taylor said the payments have stopped now that a deal has been made, but he said a total of $280,000 was made to the tribe and most of the money is still in an account. He said the money was intended for the legal department but now the money will be used to help the tribe balance its budget.
“I feel the new members of this council are buckling down and becoming fiscally responsible,” Shuman said. “We are constantly seeking ways to bring in more revenue and we are balancing the budget.”
Shuman said the new council is bringing integrity, honesty and full transparency back to the tribe.
Chairman Taylor said, “We are not going to rely on Enbridge to balance our budget. We have been working at bringing in as much revenue as possible since our first day on the job and even before the Enbridge deal, we are balancing our budget.”
Taylor noted that on the second day the new tribal council was at work, “We couldn’t make our payroll. And look how far we’ve come since then. We have a plan now to set aside an amount into a bank account that will always have our payroll covered so if that ever happens again and the money isn’t there to make payroll, we take it from that account. What happens is programs may have money on paper, but sometimes it doesn’t come into the tribe’s general fund quick enough, this way we take the money from that account and then replenish it when it becomes available from the programs.”
Tribal council member Don Carley added that the deal with Enbridge is going to, “help take us forward and bring financial stability to the tribe over the next 25 years. By entering into this agreement with Enbridge it will bring in annual payments to the tribe that will help us provide benefits and services to our people that we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to provide.”
Tuesday, October 17, 2017 | by Joe Morey
The Lac Courte Oreilles Tribal Governing Board passed a resolution at its Tuesday, October 11 council meeting, approving an agreement with Enbridge Energy Partners that would give right-of-way for two existing pipelines that cross 3.5 miles of the southwestern corner of the reservation.
Enbridge has operated a pipeline through the easement since 1968, formerly as Lakehead Pipeline Company, adding a second line in 1998. The 50-year easement for the two pipelines expires in 2018 and under the previous agreement Enbridge never had to make any payments to the tribe.
Under the new 25-year agreement approved by the tribal governing board on Tuesday, Enbridge will make an initial payment of 3.6 million dollars to the tribe followed by another payment of 3.6 million dollars in 2018 and 2019. For the remainder of the term, Enbridge will pay 2.2 million annually adjusted each year by changes in the consumer price index reflecting percentage increases for the remainder of the term, for an estimated total of $70,857,764.
The tribe said in a statement issued today, “From the outset, the negotiating teams were committed to creating a respectful and constructive process for their discussions, a key factor in enabling them to reach a historic and mutually-beneficial agreement. This agreement acknowledges and respects the Band's sovereignty, delivers meaningful community benefits for the duration of the easement and provides annual payments to the Tribal government as the landowner.”
LCO Chairman Louis Taylor said the deal will provide much-needed financial security for the tribe.
“This isn’t about today,” Taylor said. “This is about our kids and 25 years from now.”
"These pipelines have been on our land for a long time and we saw a unique opportunity to exercise our sovereignty," Taylor said in the tribal statement. "Refusing to work with Enbridge would have resulted in damage to our lands due to the removal of the pipelines, and we would have received no benefit. Enbridge understood that we have a duty to uphold our values, protect our sovereignty, and better our community. They collaborated with us to find a solution that worked for both parties. Positive history was made and hopefully, it's a sign of better relations to come between Native Americans and industry."
Taylor told DrydenWire.com he wants the tribal membership to be involved with how the money will be used.
LCO Secretary-Treasurer Jason Weaver led the team from LCO during their negotiations with Enbridge. He said, “I feel we made a historic deal that will benefit the tribe for generations, most members were for the agreement after we explained that it is only for the existing pipes and not new pipelines. We will exercise our right to tax them and regulate them, and we will continue to work with Enbridge and ensure safe operations. We all use oil to heat our homes, operate our vehicles and live a modern lifestyle.”
The statement issued by the tribe said this is a historic move and in addition to compensating the Tribe for the land rights granted, Enbridge will fund annual community investment initiatives for the term of the easement.
“The payment for the Easement, which will be split into yearly payments over a 25-year period, was calculated by taking many factors into account. First, a portion of the payment is composed of a lump sum that Enbridge typically pays out to individuals who grant them an easement,” the tribe said. “Secondly, a portion of the payment is composed of what a state or other sovereign would be paid in taxes for Enbridge having an easement on state, tribal or federal lands. Finally, the rest of the payment, which composes the vast majority of it, are funds that Enbridge has committed to the tribe, above and beyond the typical lump sum and tax payments made to either an individual or state with a pipeline easement.”
The tribe went on to say this portion of the funds was vigorously negotiated for by the tribe, the investment of these funds will strengthen services and programs in the community, and LCO members will help identify priority projects including, but not limited to renewable energy projects, infrastructure, education, cultural heritage, youth and elder programs .
"Part of the agreement includes ongoing investments in renewable energy at LCO to further LCO's goal of energy independence," said LCO Chairman Louis Taylor.
In a statement to the tribal membership in August, Jason Weaver said, “Any agreement would include a significant and ongoing monetary commitment to our community, future investments in renewable energy, investments in education, elder care and consistent, meaningful community engagement. The tribe would receive an easement payment and annual tax payments, as well as involving our tribal business in construction, maintenance, and upgrade activities along the pipeline routes, which would provide us with much more first-hand oversight on pipeline maintenance activities.”
Weaver also said the tribe would receive project management support and training for the tribe and people interested in learning this much-needed skill set.
“Project management support will focus on upgrades to our wastewater treatment plant and future renewable energy opportunities that will help us reduce our carbon footprint and our dependence on fossil fuels,” Weaver said. He said at that time the tribe was already working with Enbridge on scholarships for LCO College, training in emergency management, and community safety grants for public safety services.
LCO Council member Tweed Shuman confirmed Enbridge would hire and train LCO tribal members to watch the line and the pumping station in case they are ever needed for emergency preparedness or to do an emergency shut off.
Shuman said the agreement does not allow any new pipelines but only covers the existing lines. There are two lines that run through the reservation (6A and 14). Shuman said the agreement is also insured and will continue for the 25 years if the pipes are being used or not.
The two lines are 467 miles long and run from Superior, Wis. to Illinois. Line 6A is 34 inches in diameter and has the capacity to transport 667,000 barrels per day while Line 14 is 24 inches in diameter and can transport 318,000 barrels per day.
If the easement was allowed to expire and the LCO Tribe refused to grant Enbridge the right-of-way through the reservation, the company would have abandoned its operations on the line and built new lines through an existing right-of-way they have two other lines running through skirting along the edge of the southern reservation border.
Another factor tribal council members considered in the negotiation process was the two lines along the border of the reservation are only a few miles south of the lines passing through the reservation and any possible spills in either right-of-ways would contaminate the same water system that flows west to east into the reservation. The same threat would still have existed and the tribe wouldn’t have received any compensation nor had any part in oversight and maintenance of the lines.
LCO Tribal Council member Don Carley said the pipes are already in the ground. “They’ve been there for 50 years and it’s still going to happen and we wouldn’t have any say, and now we do.”
The tribe’s statement added, “In addition to financial benefits and community investment, rigorous emergency management processes, cultural sensitivity, awareness and education programs and responsible environmental stewardship will all be key areas for cooperation and collaboration under this new relationship."
Some key messages included in the statement said LCO citizens will help identify priority projects each year; Enbridge has demonstrated they are committed to a collaborative partnership with LCO, and the community is benefitting from the agreement with meaningful projects.
Friday, October 13, 2017 | DrydenWire
It gives us great pleasure to announce that we will be launching an online news website specifically to focus on Sawyer County, WI, called SawyerWire.
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Similar to DrydenWire.com, SawyerWire.com will cover breaking news, local stories, information, obituaries, crime stories, school news, along with events and human interest pieces that are all specific to Sawyer County. We will also be covering tribal news.
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SawyerWire.com is scheduled to launch in early-mid November.