Concerned citizens talk about oil pipeline
By Anna Erickson
About 40 people gathered to hear information about the proposed Enbridge Sandpiper oil pipeline project Wednesday night at Northwoods Bank.
Steve Peterson, a resident of Park Rapids, said he is just someone who wanted to do some research and get information out to others about the project. Michael Dahl, representing Honor the Earth, also spoke about the project and challenged others to think about protecting the environment.
Enbridge’s proposed pipeline project would run from North Dakota to Wisconsin, with a portion of pipeline proposed through Hubbard County. The company has submitted an initial application to the Public Utilities Commission.
Under state law, the PUC must approve the project before Enbridge can move ahead.
Peterson described the players involved in the project, including the Public Utilities Commission, Enbridge representatives and residents.
The project is being developed to meet the growing demand for North Dakota crude.
Enbridge’s proposal is for a $2.6 billion pipeline with 299 miles across Minnesota. The pipeline would transport crude petroleum from Enbridge’s Beaver Lodge Station south of Tioga, N.D. to its terminal in Superior, Wis. The Sandpiper Pipeline will be owned and operated by Enbridge Pipelines (North Dakota) L.L.C.
The main concern for some people is that the new line will pass within two miles of the Headwaters of the Mississippi, cross the Mississippi River, cross eight state forests, three state wildlife management areas, cross the North Country Trail and cross through 13 trout streams, Peterson said. Wildlife could be affected, he said.
Dahl grew up a mile south of Nary in Hubbard County.
“This is my home,” he said, although he now lives in White Earth.
He is part of Honor the Earth, a grassroots organization that wants to protect the earth. He is part of a group that has been riding horses along several pipelines in the state, both existing and proposed. In November, the group started a ride at the Mississippi Headwaters in Itasca State Park.
The ride was to bring awareness and education about Enbridge’s proposed Sandpiper pipeline project, to begin construction in late 2014.
“We’re not protesters, we’re protectors,” he said. “It’s about common sense and doing what’s right.”
According to Enbridge’s application, the Minnesota portion of the project will cost $1.2 billion and create 1,500 temporary pipeline jobs. The construction schedule would begin in 2014 and end in 2016, according to the Public Utilities Commission filing.
Peterson said the jobs are only temporary and that doesn’t help people around here who are looking for work.
Much of the pipeline will generally follow Enbridge’s existing pipeline or other utility right-of-way in North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The Project’s initial capacity will be 225,000 barrels per day to Clearbrook and 375,000 barrels per day to Superior.
According to Enbridge, from Superior, the oil will be transported by Enbridge and other interconnected pipelines to refinery hubs in the United States and eastern Canada.
Peterson said people have an obligation to be informed and voice their opinions.
He urged people to go to the PUC website, www.puc.state.mn.us and submit comments. People can also subscribe to the docket for the Enbridge project – 13 is the year and 473 is the number for the certificate of need and 474 is the number for the route permit.
Emails of inquiry or concern can be sent to Tracy M.B. Smetana at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another meeting about the proposed pipeline will be hosted by the League of Minnesota Voters in Park Rapids Tuesday, Jan. 7. The forum will be from 6:30-8:30 p.m. at Northwoods Bank and have Winona LaDuke from Honor the Earth, Enbridge representatives, PUC representatives and Department of Natural Resources representatives.