A community hearing covering the proposed Keystone XL pipeline planned route through Fallon County was successful on Feb. 27, at the Fallon County Fairgrounds, according to a company spokeswoman.
TC Energy spokeswoman Sara Raebern said she was pleased with the response by the community. More than 30 people attended the hearing, which lasted slightly more than a half hour.
The company started a series of hearings along the route several days earlier and Raebern said they had seen a good community response at each of the stops. “It has been great. We have had a good reception and a lot of good questions and a lot of wide-ranging questions. Our guys try to do a really good job of covering what they think is important (to each community) based on the location,” she explained.
According to Raebern, the construction phase of the project will be starting in April in Fallon County and concluding in December. “We’d be coming back in the spring (2021) to do remediation. We want to make sure we put it back to the way it was before we came,” she said.
“We know how Mother Nature is… especially in South Dakota, Montana and Nebraska,” she said, noting that warm weather will control what they are able to accomplish along the route.
The people of Fallon County will soon notice the increase in workers locally and construction traffic, Raebern said.
Some of the activity will be to prepare nesting areas for migratory birds, she said. “That is one of the important things they will do right away. It just pushes them off the right-of-way areas for migratory nesting… and into an area where they would be bothered less.”
In the Fallon County meeting, Raebern praised the questions brought up by the public. “We were really excited to see a range of type of people from law enforcement, fire, personnel, the Chamber of Commerce, local contractors and anyone who had questions,” she said.
“It is good to get people involved right away so we have good open line of communications,” she said. “We have been very happy with the people who have spoken so far.”
Some of the planned project is still in the planning phase and the contracts have not been awarded, she said. “We don’t have all the answers right now, but that is part of being in these meetings and getting contacts with people so as things get finalized, we can reach back out and make sure people are aware.”
The company will be back. “We do these meetings once a year, so we will be back in 2021 to update everybody.”
Kevin Dukart, the city clerk and treasurer for the City of Baker, agreed that the meeting was successful.
“It was pretty informative. I was with the city back in 2009, so I worked with TransCanada when they actually helped us with some of our infrastructure.
“I am glad to see them come out here. There was a lot of information here. The people that were had a good chance to get information and their questions answered. I think there was a very good response from the community,” he said after the Feb. 27 meeting at the Exhibit Hall at the Fallon County Fairgrounds.
According to Dukart, his concern was the impact of the proposed pipeline on the city and community, as well as the impact to local landowners. “The pipeline does go fairly close to my property,” he said.
“We (the city) are providing them water and sewer service at the camp and we hope everything works out for us. We need to keep everything in good working order while they are here. Obviously, law enforcement is a big concern for us as well,” he added.
Dukart said the company will be starting the project soon. “They said they are going to begin getting the camp prepared in April so they are going to be starting to use our water and sewer service at that time,” he said.
The planned man camp will be constructed west of Baker, Dukart said.