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PUC to hold hearings Thursday on Sandpiper pipeline

By Sarah Smith

Hearings that could bifurcate the Sandpiper pipeline issues will be held tomorrow, Thursday, June 12 in St. Paul.

The hearings will center around whether Enbridge Pipeline’s certificate of need should be a separate issue from the route chosen through Minnesota and Hubbard County. Right now they’re a package deal.

Opposition to the route is growing mightily, as major newspapers take note of the sensitive ground the Sandpiper will cross in its path from Tioga, N.D., to Superior, Wis., bringing North Dakota and Canadian crude oil through waterways, wetlands, at least one trout stream, walleye and wild rice habitat.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune did a front-page story about the Sandpiper, particularly in regard to its proximity to Minnesota’s latest park acquisition, LaSalle State Recreation Area near Itasca.

In it, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission seems to note, for the first time publicly, the fragility of the area the pipeline would traverse, along with the permanent damage of a potential spill and the inability of crews to reach some spots, or to detect a leak, for days, in the remote or soggy bogs.

And although Americans are voracious consumers of oil, the nine pipelines through northern Minnesota, six in Hubbard County, brought a warning from the MPCA that “past routes have crossed too many water bodies in inaccessible areas.”

Opponent Frank Bibeau said he has no idea what to expect from the hearings that will start after 11 a.m. at the Public Utilities Commission Large Hearing Room at 121 7th Place East, Suite 350 in St. Paul.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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