ND House Passes Corridor Bill | VideoJennifer Joas | 2/22/2013
Whether it`s trying to put pipelines in the ground or run electricity from substations, it`s not an easy task. Companies often have the hardest time securing the easements from landowners. While state legislators can`t help with that, they are trying to speed up the permitting process for lines traveling through designated corridors.
Whether it`s a transmission line going above ground, or a pipeline below, the Public Service Commission goes through a lengthy process in approving energy lines throughout the state. But lawmakers are adding their two cents to try and lessen the permit process for already approved corridors.
"This bill streamlines that process. It`s good for the utility; it`s good for the landowner. And it`s good for the energy company," said Representative Todd Porter (R) from Mandan.
According to the bill, if the PSC already approved a designated route for the line, and the company wants to deviate from that route, they can do so if the landowner doesn`t object.
Some lawmakers are concerned this bill will hamper landowner rights.
"I do think it does pose the threat of taking away some of the ability for those of us that are surface owners in western North Dakota to negotiate what we believe is a right location for a pipeline crossing our land," said Representative Bob Skarphol (R) from Tioga.
Other legislators have concerns landowners will be forced into easements using eminent domain.
"If you balk at all at their proposal, they will try and buy you off one way or another. They use eminent domain as a threat. And I have a lot of concern that can happen and will happen more and more across the state of North Dakota," said Representative Jerry Kelsh (D) from Fullerton.
If the landowner objects to the deviated route, the project will have to come back to the PSC and affected landowners will have another opportunity to voice concerns.
The bill passed the House with 82 to 9 votes.