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Letter: Opposed to the Enbridge pipeline

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This letter was written to Larry Hartman, Environmental Review Manager, Energy Environmental Review and Analysis (EERA), Minnesota Department of Commerce regarding the Enbridge pipeline.

I am adamantly opposed to the preferred southern route for the Sandpiper pipeline sponsored by North Dakota Pipeline Company. My wife and I live in Arago Township, Hubbard County on Hay Creek which is a tributary to the Fish Hook chain of lakes. Waters from Hay Creek flow into Island Lake which connects to Eagle Lake, Potato Lake, Fish Hook Lake, and eventually flows through Park Rapids via the Fish Hook River.

The proposed southern route crosses Hay Creek one mile above our house. I am very concerned about a potential spill and a crude oil discharge into Hay Creek. A major spill would be devastating to not only my property but all along the Fish Hook chain of lakes. All of the lakes would be impacted to the extent they could be shut down for fishing, boating, water skiing, tubing and other recreational activities. It would be a major setback to the tourism industry in the Park Rapids area.

I believe an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) must be done on the Sandpiper pipeline project. There are too many unanswered questions to move forward with this project. In an EIS that was done for the Pebble Creek Mine project in Bristol Bay, Alaska, it was determined there is a 99.5 percent chance a major spill would occur from a pipeline associated with the project during its expected 30 year life. That is a risk that needs to be assessed and determined if it is, in fact, acceptable. I haven’t seen any studies to show the effect of a major spill into Hay Creek. It is estimated that tourism is worth $30 million annually to Hubbard County. A spill in Hay Creek would seriously affect the revenue Hubbard County enjoys from tourism. An EIS would address this issue to see if a major spill into Hay Creek is economically acceptable.

The project review is moving much too fast. In addition to performing an EIS, the deadline for public review of the project must be extended to at least Aug. 1, 2014. The time for review of the project has been severely compressed. The sponsors of the project have had years to study the project and the public has had only a few months. Many of our residents in Hubbard County are gone during the winter months when this public review is taking place. It is only right they should be afforded an opportunity to be fully engaged in the review and comment process. Many residents don’t return to Hubbard County until May, well past the April 4 deadline for written and oral comments to the PUC. Give them a chance to be heard.

The public has not had time to consider alternate routes for the pipeline. It is an exhausting, time consuming, and demanding task to analyze alternate routes. The public has not had the time to do that. Certainly there are other routes to be considered that have not yet surfaced. Give the public a chance to make those comparisons.

Finally, if and when this pipeline is installed, wherever the location, it will be in the ground for a very long time, 30 to 50 years? It makes sense to fully review the project and its impact on the environment, community economics, and residents’ quality of life. Let’s take the time and expense to perform an EIS on the project and delay the public review deadline to Aug. 1. In the end we will all be better off for it.

Lowell Schellack

Park Rapids

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