/ Articles / Iron County gives green light to 2020 budget, Enbridge Energy easement

Iron County gives green light to 2020 budget, Enbridge Energy easement

November 26, 2019 by Abigail Bostwick

The Iron County Board of Supervisors adopted a 2020 budget on Nov. 12. 

The actual and allowable levy came in at just over $5.9 million. The increase of $159,328 in the levy over 2019 includes $452,000 in interest on the Saxon Harbor loan from the last two years. The harbor was washed out during a summer storm several years ago and has undergone ongoing rebuilding efforts since then. 

The county tax rate will be $6.04 per $1,000 of assessed value. 

No applied funds were used to balance the budget, clerk Michael Saari said.

In other business, the Iron County Board approved plans to move forward a possible pipeline reroute. 

Enbridge Energy will have the ability to obtain an easement through northern Iron County, should it need to reroute a pipeline off tribal land, the Iron County Board of Supervisors determined last week. 

Spurring the need for possible relocation of the crude oil and gas pipeline is a still unsettled is a federal lawsuit with the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.

The agreement opens the way for the easement negotiations to take place on just over 100 acres near Saxon and Gurney, should they be necessary. The decision has yet to be finalized, and all plans are preliminary, observed Enbridge senior advisor of community engagement Becky Haase. 

The Tribe currently wants a Line 5, a 12-mile section of pipeline, moved off their land. Enbridge has offered them $24 million to leave the pipeline where it is, but no agreement has been reached so far.

Iron County would receive some funds for approving the easement, mostly which would be on county forestlands.

Pipelines, such as Enbridge’s, are made of underground, recycled steel and are seal-coated and overseen via sensors, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology and aerial surveillance, Haase said. 

Line 5 takes up to 540,000 barrels of natural oil and gas each day across the northern portion of the state. 

Enbridge Energy needs to request permission from local residents in possible re-routing counties to conduct land surveys outside Tribal land. The current plan is to do surveys along a 40-mile area through Ashland and Iron counties, replacing the 20-mile portion in contention. Surveys go from State Highways 137 and 112 in Ashland to where it meets US Highway 2 and State Highway 169 in Iron County — though an exact reroute has not been finalized and plans could change. 

The soonest work would start on a relocation would be late this year or the start of next, Enbridge Energy officials told supervisors. No one expressed opposition to the surveys from the board or the public. 

 

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