10/29/13 – “Tuesday’s meeting was to speak with representatives of TransCanada to see where everyone is at with that 2011 agreement,” explained York County Commissioner Chairman Kurt Bulgrin. “The issue is whether it is still in effect. The county leans toward that it is null and void. TransCanada believes that the agreement is intact and still good.
Are you kidding me? TransCanada thinks the York County Haul Route Agreement is still good? If they do, then it proves what we suspected all along. They have trouble with the truth!
On 9/20/11, the day York County signed the agreement, Chairman Bulgrin asked specifically if the president denied the permit, then the contract would be null and void. Bob Bradley, project manager for TransCanada said, “Yes, then it was just a great exercise.”
On January 18, 2012 President Obama denied the permit. According to TransCanada project manager Bob Bradley, the York County Haul Route Agreement was then null and void.
Now they (TransCanada) say they believe the agreement is “intact and still good.”
Hey TransCanada, you might think we are a bunch of hicks, but we can read, and we can hear, and most of all we can see you are lying… again.
Here’s the 9/20/11 story from the York News-Times, quoting the null and void comments.
By Melanie Wilkinson, Staff Writer | 0 comments
YORK — The county commissioners have given their approval to a haul route agreement with the TransCanada company regarding the use of rural roads during the potential construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.
If the pipeline is constructed, as currently designed, it would cut through York County. The company wants to use rural roads to haul pipe, equipment and other heavy loads.
The original contract was sent to the county’s highway department a year ago and the topic of discussion has been on the commissioners’ table for months now.
Numerous public meetings have been held and the board members decided Tuesday was the day to make a decision.
Prior to Tuesday’s meeting, the board members enlisted legal assistance from Deputy County Attorney Candace Dick to review the standing agreement further.
Commissioner Kurt Bulgrin asked Dick to bring forward her findings and give her legal opinion.
“This agreement is only about the haul route, not the pipeline itself,” Dick reminded the board.
“This is only about the use of the county roads. Some issues have already been addressed and we’ve looked at others further.
“This says that the county is responsible for normal maintenance of the rural roads as we always are,” Dick said.
“Keystone would be responsible for repairs and additional maintenance that are the result of their activities.”
The agreement says that a third party consultant (who will be chosen by the county and TransCanada) would determine and document the quality of the designated rural roads, “so at the end of the project they can determine what repairs need to take place,” Dick explained.
“My concern is what happens during the project — who determines that the pipeline company may have created a greater burden (on the roads) than what we have over the course of a year?”
Ronald Comes, an Omaha attorney working as counsel to TransCanada, spoke to the matter.
“During the course of the construction, the contractors in the field — they will need to have good quality roads for their uses and they recognize that for residents and business activities, the roads need to be in good condition,” Comes said.
“They will have a good dialogue with your road department and that contractor will make sure the repairs are made. We don’t expect any disagreements.”
“We also know that the roads are necessary for the community’s commerce, so everyone would be well served to have them in good condition,” commented Jeff Rowe from TransCanada.
“We’d like to have a good relationship with your highway superintendent to provide for a fast line of communication,” Comes added.
“The project would be in phases,” Dick said.
“If you give approval, the first step would be the pre-assessment by the third party consultant who is working with both sides but is entirely paid for by Keystone. The county would only share in fees at the end if there were to be a dispute and the third party would have to mediate. The road quality assessment would be done before the county would give its OK to the actual haul routes.”
It was explained that the board’s approval would “start the ball rolling,” and that the roads specifically chosen for haul routes would be determined during the consultant process.
“The purpose of this agreement, at this point, is to put the sequence in place,” Comes said.
“You sign the agreement, then the third party consultant would evaluate the proposed roads. Then, with the advice of the consultant, we’ll look at issues with particular roads and talk about the costs on the front end.
Then, the county will have the opportunity to say ‘we prefer you don’t use those particular roads and here’s our requirements.’ Ultimately, the county has the veto power over the use of the roads.”
“So all the steps have the third party consultant involved?” asked Commissioner Paul Buller.
“Yes,” responded project manager, Bob Bradley. “We’d like to work with smaller firms if possible and we will accept any recommendations.”
“Once the agreement is entered, then the assessment can be done,” Dick said.
“The county will decide which roads will be permitted for use. If the county enters into this, it’s saying the county will be reasonable and ‘if this route doesn’t work, we’ll help find a way to do this somehow.’ This has to be something that you want to do.”
“This agreement would acknowledge that we will be using your roads,” Comes said.
“If they are damaged, it would be good to have benchmarks so we can compensate the county. So there’s a baseline — if we get to the end, if they aren’t already restored, our commitment is to get it there.”
“This gets the fish on the table,” Bradley said, “it opens the dialogue between us and your roads superintendent. He will have key contact people he can talk to. We know things will come up along the way — then he can call us and we’ll address it immediately.”
“As far as the actual presidential permit (to allow the pipeline itself, to be decided in November or December), if that is denied, then this agreement between TransCanada and the county would be null and void, correct?” Commissioner Kurt Bulgrin asked.
“Yes, then it was just a great exercise,” Bradley said.
“We try to front end these conversations and agreements, that’s how the process works. This agreement was sent out to all (potentially) affected counties — I don’t think this is a bad way to approach it.”
“How many counties in Nebraska have already entered into this agreement?” Bulgrin asked, with the response being five: Saline, Holt, Wheeler, Greeley and Jefferson.
“This agreement seems to have an infinite time frame,” Dick commented.
“I understand they have to have the permit and all that, but is there any way to quantify how long (this agreement would be in place)? I’d assume the project would be done in a reasonable amount of time because it would be in their best interest to get the job done.”
Commissioner Pat Bredenkamp asked if the company would be hiring any people from Nebraska. Company representatives said each construction spread (Nebraska would have three) would have approximately 600 workers at peak times and that the workers would be drawn from union labor halls.
It was noted that if any interested Nebraskans want to look into these jobs, they should check with unions — which is used by the company in order for them “to get the most qualified people which will then provide speed with the construction.”
“When you are working on a project and you are in a field, you dig the trench, put your pipe in there and cover it, what happens with the extra dirt?” Bredenkamp asked.
Bradley acknowledged there would be excess dirt from time to time which would have to be hauled away, noting it could be used in a variety of different ways.
“And we have to make sure we allow for settlement.”
“Do you have a problem with bonding?” asked Commissioner Buller, referring to a way to make sure funds are available to fix problems a year or more after the pipeline construction is completed. Company representatives said they didn’t feel that would be a problem.
“If the goal is to let the pipeline construction get through, then it’s a good idea to sign a contract that says if there is damage to the roads, then they will pay for it,” Dick said.
“The only thing I’d like to add to the agreement is that they use reasonable effort to make improvements in a timely manner, which is obviously understood. I think this agreement accomplishes that goal.”
Brad Covert, the county’s interim highway superintendent, said he’s “happy with the agreement. I checked with all the counties through which the first Keystone pipeline crossed. All of them said that TransCanada lived up to every part of the agreement they had.”
“The government has to approve this before we can go any further,” said Commissioner Tom Shellington.
“Well, if the federal government denies the presidential permit, then this agreement is null and void and there is no expense to the county,” Bulgrin noted.
“This just says that we agree on the roads on which there is an evaluation so we have the basis to understand (the level of repair that may have to be done in the future,” Bradley said.
“I don’t agree,” Shellington responded.
“I’d like to add to the agreement that the company bond for at least a year,” Buller said.
“I want to wait for the new highway superintendent to come on board,” Shellington said.
“But the process wouldn’t change,” Bradley said.
“What would be the point of bond?” Bulgrin asked.
“If there’s something that has to be fixed after the fact,” Buller said.
“I think that issue is already in the agreement,” said Commissioner Bill Bamesberger.
“I don’t see the need for a bond,” Bulgrin said.
“Before we commit to anything, I think we need the new guy here,” Shellington said.
“He hasn’t indicated anything to me, as far as problems,” Bulgrin said, referring to the person who has been offered the position of highway superintendent.
“I understand your point, but this is an agreement between the county and TransCanada, not between the road superintendent and TransCanada.”
“I think we’ve procrastinated long enough,” Bamesberger said.
“Well, yes, we’ve been talking about this for quite awhile,” Bulgrin agreed.
Several tweaks were made to the wording of the agreement before the board took a vote on the matter — which resulted in all five commissioners saying yes to the matter.
There is no condition related to company bonding, as initially suggested by Buller.