WORTHINGTON — One week after landowners aired their concerns during a Nobles County Planning Commission public hearing about Minnesota Energy Resources’ proposed natural gas pipeline expansion, the utility breezed through a continuation of the hearing Wednesday night.
Minnesota Energy Resources is requesting a conditional use permit to replace two existing natural gas pipelines with one 12-inch pipeline in a 6.3-mile stretch along Nobles County State Aid Highway 35. The two existing pipelines are the property of Northern Natural Gas, and it isn’t known if those will be removed or left in place.
The proposal is to place the new pipeline within a one-mile easement north and south of Nobles County 35, through the north half of six sections in Lorain Township.
During the hearing process a week ago, the Nobles County Environmental Services staff presented a page-long list of recommended conditions to be placed on the permit. Minnesota Energy Resources reviewed those conditions prior to Wednesday’s meeting.
“I don’t think there is anything out of the ordinary that we wouldn’t be able to accommodate,” Levi Langseth, senior engineer with Minnesota Energy Resources, told the commission.
The 12 conditions include that all public tile lines be located prior to the start of the pipeline construction project and create maps marking the locations; provide copies of the tile maps to the Nobles County Ditch Systems Coordinator and Nobles County Environmental Services; notify the ditch systems coordinator when any work is taking place on areas involving county tile; repair and/or replace any damaged tile lines along the pipeline route with the same diameter tile with rock bed below within five days of damage taking place; provide proof of a $20,000 three-year bond to cover any claims if the new gas line adversely affects drainage specific to public tile lines; provide an as-built map once the pipeline construction is completed; provide a map indicating the location of public tile repairs once the pipeline is installed; and provide a map indicating where heavy equipment was driven during construction of the pipeline near public tile lines for the purpose of possible collateral damage to public tile.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, landowner Pat Riley said the drainage easement should supersede the utility easement, and he asked if the county could force Minnesota Energy Resources to install their pipeline deeper.
Langseth said the pipe will be installed a minimum of 60 inches from the surface, and in some cases deeper.
“We need to keep 12 inches of separation between gas lines and drainage lines,” said Lindsay Lyle, engineering manager for Minnesota Energy Resources.
The planning commission granted unanimous approval for the utility’s plan, with the conditions presented. The permit request will now advance to the Nobles County Board of Commissioners for consideration at its Aug. 6 meeting.