Pipeline company gives to emergency responders
The company behind the Dakota Access Pipeline stopped in Mandan on Tuesday evening as part of an effort to donate to emergency management departments in all four states the pipeline crosses.
Officials from three counties gathered at the Mandan Rural Fire Department with a handful of employees from Energy Transfer Partners to receive checks from the company for $20,000.
The pipeline company is donating $1 million to emergency responders across the Dakotas, Iowa and Illinois.
“If ever there is any kind of incident, they’re going to be the first ones on the scene, so we want to support their efforts,” said Chuck Frey, vice president of liquids engineering for Energy Transfer Partners.
This donation comes after the company gave $15 million to reimburse the state of North Dakota for the money it spent responding to the pipeline protests.
Energy Transfer Partners is giving to the seven counties the pipeline spans in North Dakota.
Mercer County Commission Chair Duane Scheurer said it’s not just a potential accident with Dakota Access that requires first responders be extra prepared. They must also be ready for an incident with a power plant or another pipeline that crosses the county.
“It’s rare,” Scheurer said. “But they have to maintain their training at all times and be ready for anything that happens.”
This money from Energy Transfer Partners helps the county’s emergency responders as grants dry up due to state budget cuts, he said. It will be split between Mercer County’s rural fire departments and ambulance service, which are nearly all volunteers. The departments need funding to maintain their vehicles and to buy new equipment.
“I think it really does mean a lot to the responders in the community because they’re here and we need to work together,” Mercer County Emergency Manager Carmen Reed said.
Frey said Energy Transfer Partners wants to show it’s invested here.
“We do want to be a partner,” he said. “We don’t want to just come in and then be gone.”
Through all the controversy surrounding the pipeline, he said the company learned it’s key to engage the communities it’s impacting early on -- and to keep that communication going.
“We want them to know who we are so they get to know us, and they know they can contact us and we’re going to respond to their concerns," Frey said.
Energy Transfer Partners is also making donations in North Dakota to other groups like the FFA foundation, 4-H foundation, the state historical society foundation and law enforcement associations.