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Letter: Enbridge pipeline not a done deal

The Sandpiper Pipeline requested by Enbridge has never been a done deal as Enbridge and others want you to believe. This was confirmed by the PUC in its decisions on Sept. 11.

The Friends of the Headwaters (FOH), tribes, private and governmental organizations/agencies, numerous individuals, including local, state and national elected officials, have all been saying for months that there has to be a better way to route a pipeline than as proposed by Enbridge through our lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands, watersheds, aquifers and wild rice waters (the “Enbridge Route”). Also, the County Board and County SWCD agreed in their resolutions that that the PUC should also consider a non-water alternate route in it proceedings.

For the first time in an energy request to the PUC, both the MPCA and the DNR, the state’s agencies charged with protecting the state’s environment and natural resources, have raised very serious concerns regarding the Enbridge Route. The MPCA recommended to the PUC that 6 totally different pipeline routes, referred to as “System Alternatives”, should be studied environmentally and included in the Certificate of Need (CON) determination. Additionally, the MPCA advised the PUC that it has determined that each of the 6 System Alternatives had fewer potential environmental effects than the Enbridge Route when compared on various criteria.

On Sept. 11 the PUC agreed that six System Alternatives (four of which were proposed by the FOH and two of those were endorsed by the MPCA) needed to be included in the environmental analysis and included in the PUC’s process to determine if a CON should be issued to Enbridge.

Also, the PUC decided in this matter to not use the historical single process to decide if the PUC will grant the CON and Route Permit (RP). It determined in this matter that the CON process would be completed first and the Route Permit process would proceed only if a CON was granted. The PUC separated the CON and RP processes because it wanted to be sure the process was fair for the public, it wanted to avoid the confusion of a single process and it wanted to provide an opportunity for the organizations that oppose the pipeline and have limited resources to be able to allocate their resources more effectively since there will not be a RP process if the CON was denied.

The MPCA and the DNR comments to the PUC located at “friendsoftheheadwaters.org” confirm that Enbridge’s claim that its proposed route is the most environmentally sensitive is simply just not true.

Chuck Diessner

Park Rapids

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