EDC asks state to OK pipeline eminent domain: Bloomington IL Pantagraph, 9/25/07

By Scott Miller

The Economic Development Council of the Bloomington-Normal A[IL] rea has asked a state agency to approve an eminent-domain request for a crude-oil pipeline “at the earliest possible date.”

In a letter to the Illinois Commerce Commission last week, EDC Executive Director Marty Vanags said the proposed crude-oil pipeline would create 500 new jobs along the route, along with local capital investment in McLean County.

In addition, “when you look at a pipeline like this, you also have to look at the larger national security questions when you talk about oil,” Vanags said. “Would you rather get oil from Canada or would you rather get oil from the Middle East?”

Enbridge Inc. asked the ICC to issue a certificate of good standing to construct a pipeline from Pontiac to Patoka in Southern Illinois to funnel about 400,000 barrels of Canadian crude oil daily to refineries throughout the Midwest.

The certificate would allow for eminent domain — government authority to compel property owners to sell land at market value for public good — if Enbridge can’t reach agreements with landowners.

In Central Illinois, the project affects about 95 landowners in McLean County, 68 in Livingston County and 65 in DeWitt County.

Several landowners have filed as interveners in the case with the ICC.

ICC hearings on the request begin in October.

Meanwhile, not all of the 500 temporary construction jobs will be in McLean County. Most will be hired from local union halls along the 170-mile route of the pipeline, said Joe Martucci, spokesman for Enbridge Inc. So McLean County laborers, truck drivers, equipment operators and other union members won’t work along the entire 170-mile route or during the entire eight-month construction process, he said. Construction is slated to start in May, he said.

A “few” permanent jobs will be available at a pumping station when the pipeline is complete, Martucci said. A location for the station hasn’t been selected, he said.

In addition to the 500 construction jobs, specialized workers and supervisors will come from out of state with the contractors hired to oversee the project, Martucci said.

“The economic shot in the arm, or boost, comes in two ways, the local hiring and the people who come from out of town and need a place to stay and place to eat,” he said.

Bloomington IL Pantagraph: http://www.pantagraph.com