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Letter: Opposition to Sandpiper pipeline

We write in opposition to the oil pipeline corridor, known as the Sandpiper, proposed by the Enbridge Corporation. We believe that the company has demonstrated neither the need nor the appropriateness of its preferred corridor.

Enbridge has marshaled its abundant resources to argue that demand for crude oil has out-stripped current rail and pipeline delivery systems. Testimony from Paul Blackburn among others has raised significant challenges to the thesis that the current capacity is inadequate - see Docket #13-473, documentTitle=201412-105342-01 at the website. That debate occurred in the context of crude oil selling at over $100 a barrel on the global market. With that price dropping by 50 percent in the last six months, MN PUC and the Department of Commerce need to re-examine the basic assumptions calling for this pipeline construction.

Whether or not the current slump in the price of crude oil continues, it undercuts Enbridge’s campaign for a fast track approval of its preferred route. Friends of the Headwaters, among others, have identified serious threats to the environment associated with the Sandpiper route and have proposed alternatives. The threats to our state’s most distinctive natural resources – clean water (both surface and sub-surface) and forests – demand attention. The DOC-EERA of last December offered an inadequate comparison of the environmental consequences of the competing system alternative routes, offering tabulations of categories effected with no attention to the qualitative differences within those categories. ( commerce/energyfacilities/resource.html?Id=34042) We note that the alternative routes would provide at least as much if not more construction employment than Enbridge’s preferred route.

ThePUC must take the time for a full Environmental Impact Statement in order to determine the safest route for the delivery of this hazardous material. It also must take into consideration the imperfect safety record of the Enbridge Corporation along with the inevitably of human error and equipment failure. That Enbridge wants to add an even larger pipeline moving an equally hazardous but different type of crude oil along this same corridor makes a thorough review even more imperative.

Bert and Janet Ahern