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Enbridge cites state law in asking Dane County to remove insurance reference in permit

Enbridge cites state law in asking Dane County to remove insurance reference in permit


The Canadian oil pipeline giant Enbridge Energy is insisting that Dane County erase from a permit all traces of spill insurance requirements that were invalidated in July by a state budget provision.

An Enbridge spokeswoman announced Tuesday that the company was appealing to the county board to remove references to spill insurance even though the county zoning board added a note to the permit acknowledging the effect of the budget bill.

The county Zoning and Land Regulation Committee in April approved a permit Enbridge needs to build new pumps in the town of Medina to increase the flow of tar sands crude through a major pipeline.

Concerned by Enbridge’s disastrous 2010 spill of tar sands in Michigan’s Kalamazoo River, the committee required spill cleanup insurance.

But an item slipped anonymously into the state budget and signed by Gov. Scott Walker in July forbade such insurance requirements, and a county administrator removed them from the permit.

But on Sept. 29, the committee voted unanimously to restore the requirements with a note making clear the state action.

Enbridge spokeswoman Jennifer Smith said that’s unacceptable.

“From a legal perspective, we believe the ZLR Board exceeded both its authority and jurisdiction through its unprecedented actions,” Smith said in an email. “By leaving the insurance requirements in place, even with the asterisk that they are unenforceable, the CUP (conditional use permit) creates confusion, regulatory uncertainty and unpredictability.”

Mary Kolar, who made the motion to restore the conditions with a note, said the spill insurance conditions came after many weeks of public testimony and a report from an expert on pollution insurance.

“It was important to me to include in the Dane County record the conditions that resulted from months of gathering information and expert opinion,” Kolar said. “Our (ZLR) authority to include the additional insurance conditions was abrogated by the Republican-led state Legislature. Yet, the approved CUP still exists.”

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Steven Verburg is a reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal covering state politics with a focus on science and the environment as well as military and veterans issues.

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