County pipeline policy made official

By Sarah Pridgeon

The county’s policy on the installation of commercial pipelines along or across county roads was made official at this month’s regular session of the County Commissioners. Any company wishing to install a commercial pipeline within Crook County will now be asked to follow a set procedure to obtain a license if that pipeline will cross or run alongside any county road.

According to that procedure, the process will begin with an informal pre-meeting with the Road and Bridge Department and Growth and Development Office to familiarize the company with county staff, requirements and resources. This will be followed by an initial meeting in which the same attendees will review information and determine what existing pipelines and intersections or planned improvements to the roads the new pipeline might affect and physically view the proposed route.

Following the initial meeting, times will be set on the County Commissioners’ calendar for a first and second public hearing. At least three days before the first hearing, the pipeline company must provide a signed Commercial Pipeline License along with several other pieces of documentation, including all necessary access permits.

Among the information required will be a road maintenance agreement, through which the company will agree to pay for any impact and damage caused by the project, including dust mitigation until up to a year after construction. Rural Addresses are also necessary to provide the location of the site to assist in providing timely emergency services.

The company will also be asked to provide information to Homeland Security regarding the plan of operation and maintenance as it relates to safety, products being transported or stored and contact information. Any incidents must be reported to the county and Homeland Security in the same manner as required by any other regulatory agencies and the State and the company must provide its Emergency Operation Plan.

The pipeline company must also provide information to provide for baseline water testing to protect the company, county and landowners. This will involve paying for an independent third party to test water quality for any consenting landowner’s water sources before the license is granted.

Finally, the company will be asked to provide tax revenue information and ensure that the county obtains the tax benefits of the project by obtaining mobile machinery stickers in the county, advertising for jobs with the Department of Workforce Services, taking delivery of all infrastructure items in Crook County such that the county receives the sales tax revenue and making a good faith effort to use local vendors, contractors and services.

At the hearing, the County Commissioners will determine whether the company has complied with the pipeline policy and mitigated the actual and reasonable public health and safety concerns as they relate to the affected county roads. They will also determine if a second hearing is necessary.

The public may submit written comments and exhibits to the County Clerk at least a week before the hearing and may make comments at the hearing itself. County departments, State and Federal agencies, the pipeline company and others may be asked to respond to those comments.

If a second hearing is deemed necessary, comments and concerns should be submitted by any member of the public, State or Federal agency, department head or elected official at least 15 days beforehand. Again, public comments may be made and responded to at the hearing.

If the County Commissioners approve the installation of the commercial pipeline, they will grant a Commercial Pipeline License for each crossing along with the access permits, road maintenance and repair agreements, fire management plan and Rural Addresses, with all associated costs paid by the pipeline company.The company will then be responsible for the upkeep maintenance of the pipeline and, if it is abandoned, it must be removed unless written permission is given for it to remain within the county right-of-way.

The full policy may be viewed on the county website at www.crookcounty.wy.gov