N.D. may see interstate pipelineA pipeline slated to move about 477 million cubic feet of natural gas per day through southwest North Dakota is moving into the next stages of becoming a reality.
By: Lisa Call, The Dickinson Press
A pipeline slated to move about 477 million cubic feet of natural gas per day through southwest North Dakota is moving into the next stages of becoming a reality.
Bison Pipeline, LLC, a subsidiary of TransCanada Corp., an energy producing company, has proposed construction of a 302.5-mile stretch of gas transmission lines beginning near Dead Horse, Wyo. The lines would then span Wyoming, southeastern Montana and southwest North Dakota including Bowman, Hettinger, Stark and Morton counties.
According to a press release from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, FERC has prepared an environmental impact study for the pipeline project and is seeking public input.
The public is invited to share comments and concerns with the EIS at a meeting from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Sept. 22, at the Bowman County Fairgrounds Four Seasons Pavilion.
The EIS is available for public viewing at the U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Dickinson office.
The pipeline would cover about 5.3 miles of land owned by the BLM, with the remaining land being privately held or state-owned, said Lonny Bagley, BLM field manager.
After moving through North Dakota, the Bison Pipeline would connect to the Northern Border Pipeline stemming from Canada.
Justin Kringstad, executive director of the North Dakota Pipeline Authority, said if all goes well, construction could begin at the end of 2010.
“It won’t be handling any North Dakota gas,” Kringstad said. “It’s going to be moving gas from Wyoming to another pipeline in North Dakota for further transport. The impact on North Dakota natural gas producers is really negligible, but again that could change in the future.”
Since the pipeline will be underground, crossing several waterways, several federal agencies have been studying possible ecological effects for approximately the last year.
“Based on the analysis included in the EIS, the FERC staff concludes that construction and operation of the Bison Pipeline Project would result in some adverse environmental impacts,” said the FERC press release.
With Bison Pipeline looking at a construction price tag of $600 million, the cost for environmental studies is covered by the applicant in a cost recovery account, said David Dodson, Bison Pipeline spokesperson.
The pipeline would cross 158 bodies of water in Montana and 65 in North Dakota.
Mike Sauer, senior scientist with the North Dakota Department of Health’s division of water quality, has extensively reviewed Bison Pipeline’s construction plans. Two water bodies considered sensitive were of concern to Sauer and his department.
“We ended up denying our water quality certification,” Sauer said. “What it allows us to do is take a closer look at these crossings.”
The NDDOH is particularly concerned with the Little Missouri River, Spring Creek, Cedar Creek, Cannonball River and the Heart River as they qualify as fisheries and tributaries.
In the Heart River and Little Missouri River, Bison Pipeline proposed to use an open-cut method in which the company would trench through the river, bury the pipeline and cover it back up.
However, Sauer felt there was a more environmentally-friendly method called a horizontal directional drill.
Instead, Sauer required Bison Pipeline implement a horizontal- directional drill where they would bore underneath the river and come out the other side.
“While it is generally more expensive to do it that way, the fish in the river don’t even know this is going on,” Sauer said.
Carol Aron, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service endangered species biologist, has been studying the pipeline plans and possible effects since it was proposed in 2008.
Aron said she thinks the pipeline’s ecological effects will be fairly short- term.
“They are taking measures to avoid wetlands so we shouldn’t change the hydrology of the area,” Aron said.
According to the TransCanada Web site, the pipeline design is expandable up to 1 billion cubic feet per day and could extend into the Rockies basin.
However, if the pipeline project does expand east over the Little Missouri River through North Dakota as previously proposed, threatened and endangered bird species could see major effects, Aron said.
Wyoming is seeing several species impacts, Aron said.
If the pipeline is a go, Dodson said Bison Pipeline cannot guarantee a certain number of jobs to North Dakotans as pipeline construction takes very specialized skills, but they will hire those who qualify.