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County votes to ask PUC to consider new routes

BY Sarah smith

In a nail-biter of a decision, the Hubbard County Board voted 3-2 to ask Enbridge for a pipeline route around Hubbard County.

They signed – to loud applause – a resolution in support of the Friends of the Headwaters group asking the Canadian pipeline to route the Sandpiper pipeline around the county’s fragile lakes and streams.

The board appeared divided 2-2 until commissioner Dan Stacey took a while to think about his vote and sided with the “yes” group.

Board chair Kathy Grell and commissioner Cal Johannsen voted no. Grell said the board had made a decision “early on” to stay politically neutral and she felt voting on the resolution compromised the board’s position.

FOH chair Richard Smith said the resolution didn’t ask the board to support the pipeline but simply to consider alternative routes around the county’s pristine lakes and rivers.

It is unclear what clout the county will have with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, which is in charge of the decision on a route and whether the pipeline will be built.

But as property owners in the county anguish about the pipeline, Enbridge has purchased 11 leases in the county along the proposed route.

An attorney who attended the packed county board meeting said he doubted Enbridge would be doing that unless the pipeline was a “done deal.”

Opponents remain steadfast in their desire to halt the pipeline or reroute it far from Hubbard County.

“To us they couldn’t have picked a worse place for the pipeline,” Smith said.

A pipeline rupture could be catastrophic to the county’s waters, aquifers and rivers, he added.

Seventy people attended the board meeting Tuesday morning, and cheered loudly when commissioner Greg Larson proposed the favorable resolution.

They cheered again when Stacey broke the tie vote.

However, the choosing of a “non-water” route through the state of 10,000 lakes was greeted with sarcasm and skepticism from the crowd.

Sarah Smith

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

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