What Judge Larry Jones told the Illinois Commerce Commission is only opinion meant to guide a final decision at a later date. It's still got property owners nervous, though. They think now Enbridge will now just try to buy them out.
For more than a decade, Carlisle Kelly has been turning his property in Clinton into a home away from home. He's been in the process of planting several trees, and making it a place for animals to feel welcome. But Kelly is worried now that his hard work will soon be destroyed. "It's going to totally destroy the ecosystem," he says. Enbridge's proposed pipeline would slice right through his property. Kelly says, "I hate to be a crybaby, but 'devastation' is the word for it."
In total, the pipeline would cut through eight Illinois counties: Livingston, McLean, De Witt, Macon, Christian, Shelby, Fayette and Marion. It would begin at a terminal in Flanagan then travel underground to a oil hub in Patoka. The pipeline would have close ties to existing lines in Chicago. But how Enbridge gets access to the land along the route is a sticking point.
Judge Jones believes Enbridge should negotiate with angry property owners. Carlisle and his neighbors say they feel like their hands are tied against the big oil companies, though. "They've pretty much been the big bully on the block saying this is where we're going, and this is what we're going to do," he says.
That's what his lawyer would hate to see, especially since he says the pipeline would not benefit Illinois in the long run. Tom Pliura says, "There is absolutely zero evidence in the records that it's going to bring any quantifiable benefit to the citizens of Illinois.
All Enbridge would say today is "they're reviewing the decision." The ICC has the final say, which could come in the next 6 weeks.