/ Last Modified April 7, 2014

Pima County Could Seek Mitigation for Pipeline Construction

Environmental Impact Statement for Kinder-Morgan's Sierrita Pipeline didn't find major negative impacts; County administrator says it could create second smuggling corridor.

There is one less obstacle for the proposed construction of a natural gas pipeline between the U.S.-Mexico border and Tucson.

Kinder-Morgan’s Sierrita Pipeline would carry natural gas 60 miles through the remote area west of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released their final Environmental Impact Statement at the end of March. The report found negative impacts on the local flora and fauna would be limited, but Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckelberry said it missed other consequences.

“That corridor will cause significant impacts that are measurable and real in Pima County in the areas of law enforcement in the sense that it will more than likely create a second smuggling corridor,” Huckelberry said.

In a memorandum, Huckelberry estimated the pipeline would cost the county about $1 million annually in habitat repair and public safety costs.

On Tuesday, he will ask the Pima County Board of Supervisors to approve a resolution that would allow the county to seek a $7 million fund from Kinder-Morgan.

“So if the mitigation that’s proposed is not adequate, which we believe it will not be, there will be a funding source of mitigation that actually works,” Huckelberry said.

Richard Wheatley, a spokesperson for Kinder-Morgan, declined to comment.

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