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The newspaper welcomes brief letters (generally no longer than 400 words) that express an opinion on a currently newsworthy topic. The writer’s contact information must be included for verification. Letters that contain defamatory comments, open letters, third-party letters, letters sent to more than one publication, and letters that would more appropriately be advertisements, including Cards of Thanks, are unlikely to be published. One letter generally is allowed per writer per calendar month.

Next up: pipeline

To the editor:

The next two years will bring many issues to the new five-member Marion County Commission.

One I have not heard mentioned is the end of property tax abatement granted to giant Canadian pipeline company TransCanada on its Keystone tar sands pipeline through Marion County.

The Kansas Legislature granted the 10-year property tax abatement in 2006. The legislation was enabled by then State Senator Jay Emler and supported by the late Don Dahl, both of whom represented Marion County.

Lack of tax from the pipeline since it went online in 2011 has cost Marion County millions. The 10-year exemption should end in 2020.

The question for the commission will be to support fair and real assessment of the tax value of pipeline property.

The pipeline is 36 miles long and has easements valued at $2 million, based on payments to landowners before construction.

The pipeline carries a construction value of around $1 million or more per mile. Extra infrastructure of valves, monitoring stations and such could add additional millions.

Another consideration should be the value of the enterprise, carrying an estimated 400,000 barrels of crude every day. That adds up to a lot of money.

The new commission should be aware the TransCanada will be proposing an aggressive depreciation schedule and other “poor mouthing” arguments. But in reality this may be the most valuable single piece of property in Marion County and should be taxed accordingly.

On Oct. 29, 2019, this same Keystone pipeline owned by TransCanada leaked 383,000 gallons near Edinburg, North Dakota.

Environmental risk posed by hosting a high-pressure tar sands pipeline should be considered. Cleanup of spills is costly and time consuming. A 2010 spill in Kalamazoo, Michigan, has cost more than $1 billion and is still not finished.

Marion County should have assurance that adequate measures and funds are in place in case a spill. With petroleum pipelines, it is not whether they will spill but when.

Harry Bennett
Madison, Wisconsin

Last modified Nov. 21, 2019

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