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Department of Commerce role in pipeline route questioned

This week the MN Department of Commerce rejected citizen-proposed alternate routes that bypass the Mississippi Headwaters and Minnesota’s lake country, even those that suggested a spur from the south in order for the Enbridge pipeline to end up at Superior.

Enbridge, a Canadian conglomerate, has proposed this pipeline route through Minnesota’s critical water resources. 

Apparently the DOC has also ignored the majority of citizen comments (see enclosed DOC graphic) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s well-reasoned objections to the “preferred southern route” designed by Enbridge (enclosed).  

Instead of giving due consideration to alternate routes that were designed to protect Minnesota waters, the DOC allowed Enbridge to define this project’s purpose by limiting alternate routes to the starting and end points mandated by Enbridge. 

Friends of the Headwaters (FOH), a group of citizens organized to oppose the preferred Enbridge route, questions whether deciding to use such narrowly defined parameters to limit alternate routes is within the DOC’s purview.

Friends of the Headwaters also believes that the Minnesota DNR and PCA, agencies charged with protecting our environment, should conduct the comparative environmental analysis of the DOC’s proposed routes, including a full risk assessment. 

They also contend that the pipeline approval process is too crucial a decision to be handled by the Department of Commerce, a department tasked with promoting business. 

Enbridge is a company whose safety record is so bad that, in a document from May 6, 2014, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration held it up as the industry model of what NOT to do: articles/ 2014/05/06/2014-10248/pipeline-safety-lessons-learned-from-the-release-at-marshall-michigan.  

Based on the recent PHMSA report, the unusual water issues in Enbridge’s proposed route, and the company’s disastrous record around water resources in Michigan and elsewhere, Friends of the Headwaters contends that Governor Dayton and the MN legislature should initiate a formal and independent review of Minnesota’s pipeline approval process and all of Enbridge’s pipeline infrastructure, integrity, and inspection procedures in Minnesota.

This is a critical juncture for all Minnesotans. If Enbridge gets its way, their pipelines will jeopardize Minnesota’s land, lakes, and livelihoods.

Friends of the Headwaters will continue to oppose the siting of these pipelines in the Mississippi Headwaters and Minnesota’s lake country. 

Richard Smith

For Friends of the Headwaters