TransCanada ran into a brick wall in the form of the York County board of comissioners last Tuesday, July 26th. In another play to convince York County to give them carte-blanche freedom to use county roads for hauling pipeline materials and equipment, TransCanada reps unsuccessfully attempted to sway members of the board from taking a common-sense stance when they questioned TransCanada’s haul-route agreement.
First up was TransCanada rep Tracy Calhoun, accompanied by attorney Ron Comes. After assuring the board that there was “no rush to get this done,” Calhoun then added that TransCanada is “trying to get it done in an orderly fashion.” Apparently, how TransCanada defines “orderly” isn’t quite the same as the York County definition.
The biggest concern to York county board members was the 3rd party evaluator outlined in the agreement. Board chairman Kurt Bulgrin and County Attorney Bill Sutter both stipulated that York county should be allowed to participate in deciding who the 3rd party evaluator would be, since allowing TransCanada to make the decision alone would be a conflict of interest.
Board member Paul Buller was also adamant that TransCanada notify all residents along the haul route and provide a single contact for those residents if there were concerns. Buller cited past experiences in which he and others “got the run-around” and never had their questions and concerns addressed. Calhoun told Buller that she would be that contact and that her phone is on “24 hours a day.”
Calhoun told the board that they did not have to sign the agreement until they felt comfortable that their questions had been answered, then promptly suggested that her team of five lawyers and TransCanada reps be given the chance to answer those questions. Clearly, TransCanada was trying to push for a decision that day, regardless of Calhoun’s assurances that an immediate decision was not necessary.
At the end of the meeting, common sense prevailed. The York County board of commissioners did not sign an agreement and did not buy into the TransCanada reps’ assurances.
This is an example of bold leadership, something we did not see in Merrick County where board members chose not to stand with Randy Thompson (a Merrick county landowner), but instead signed a letter in support of the pipeline.
TransCanada is again on the agenda for the York board meeting on August 9th at 1:30pm in the courthouse basement. This meeting is open to the public, and I urge anyone who is interested to attend.
You can contact Chairman Bulgrin via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 402-366-6458. Let him know that you support the board’s caution in dealing with TransCanada and that you appreciate his strong leadership. The website for York county, which carries updated agenda information is http://www.yorkcounty.ne.gov, and the phone number for the York county clerk is 402-362-7759.
Here’s the testimony from the York County meeting: