Landowners settle with pipeline company; public hearing set | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Landowners settle with pipeline company; public hearing set

Posted By on Tue, Jan 12, 2016 at 6:00 AM

Dwight and Sandy Kimbriel of Clarksville, who were the last holdouts in Johnson County in the taking of their property for the Diamond Project’s crude oil pipeline, have reached a settlement agreement with the company, making the eminent domain petition filed against them moot.

Sandy Kimbriel said her husband had worked out the agreement with lawyers for Valero/Plains All American, which is building a 440-mile pipeline through Arkansas to move Bakken shale crude oil from Cushing, Okla., to a refinery in Memphis, on Jan. 4, days before a hearing was set in Clarksville Circuit Court.

Meanwhile, Clarksville Alderman Danna Schneider said there will be an informational hearing for the public on the pipeline at 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 25, in the Rogers Center at the University of the Ozarks. Because the pipeline project was not required to hold hearings for the public, Schneider and others are calling one on their own.

Schneider and Clarksville Light and Water General Manager John Lester want Valero/Plains All American to route the pipeline south of the Arkansas River and out of the watershed for the water supply in Clarksville and other Johnson County towns. In December, a party that included Schneider, Lester, Johnson County Judge Herman Houston, Johnson County Emergency Management Coordinator Josh Johnson and state Rep. Betty Overbey (D-Lamar) met with All-American communications director Brad Leone, senior operations direct Rick McMichael and Paschal Strategic Communications Group's Don Erbach to discuss the pipeline route. Schneider said that as the meeting ended, she heard one of the pipeline representatives say the company had invested too much to alter the route. The project is estimated to cost $900 million.

Sens. Tom Cotton and John Boozman and U.S. Reps. Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman have expressed reservations about eminent domain for the "Clean Line" project that would move wind-farm-generated electricity in Oklahoma to Tennessee, and Schneider has written them asking why they have not shown similar concern in the oil pipeline route. The Clean Line project required public hearings; no public hearings are required for oil pipelines under state law, but Valero/Plains All American is being required to get certain permits to cross waterways from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the state Department of Environmental Quality.

Democratic State Rep. Warwick Sabin introduced a bill in the last legislative session that would have amended state law granting common carriers eminent domain to require utilities to get a certificate from the Public Service Commission and follow certain rules for notification and environmental considerations. It died in the House.


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