Commentary: Input encouraged at public meetings on proposed pipeline projects
We encourage your participation in the Sandpiper Pipeline and Line 3 Replacement Projects’ series of public scoping meetings hosted by the State of Minnesota’s Department of Commerce.
Beginning April 25 and continuing through May 11, the Minnesota Department of Commerce (DOC) will hold 12 public meetings across the state as part of the scoping process for the Environmental Impact Statement for the Sandpiper Pipeline and the Line 3 Replacement Projects. The public input from these meetings will assist the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for each project.
This latest round of meetings follows 22 public hearings and meetings that have already been held about both projects, which have broad and deep support throughout Minnesota. Enbridge has secured easement agreements with approximately 95 percent of the private landowners along the proposed route.
Scoping meetings are the first step in the development of an EIS and identify the route alternatives and topics to be included in the EIS, which the DOC will use in determining the scope of the EIS. These meetings will give the public another opportunity to learn more about each proposed project, ask questions and provide input. As the projects’ proponent, we encourage public engagement and participation in the scoping process.
Enbridge has recognized that the ongoing maintenance program for its existing 34-inch Line 3 pipeline will require extensive maintenance and repairs along the entire pipeline in Minnesota. As a result, we are proposing to replace the 1960s-vintage pipe with a new pipeline. This critical project will encompass 1,031 miles of 36-inch diameter pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to Superior, Wis., at a total private investment of $7.5 billion.
The Sandpiper Pipeline Project will transport growing supplies of North American crude oil to Clearbrook, Minn. and to Superior, Wis., where Enbridge connects to existing pipeline networks to transport oil to refineries in the Midwest and eastern Canada. The project is approximately 616 miles and a $2.6 billion private investment in infrastructure. Sandpiper will help address rail congestion by putting North Dakota oil supplies in pipelines, improve U.S. energy security and provide an economic boost to northern Minnesota communities.
Protecting the environment is important to all of us, and numerous factors went into developing a route that balanced sensitive environmental considerations. Enbridge followed the MPUC’s route criteria in the selection and analysis of the proposed routes. In fact, more than 240,000 hours were spent in careful selection of these routes. Once we identified a general location for the pipelines, we conducted detailed engineering and environmental survey work and worked with affected landowners to further refine the routes to avoid or minimize human and environmental impacts.
We believe the proposed route provides the best balance for Minnesota, taking into account impacts to both people and the environment. It is an energy-efficient route and it impacts fewer landowners, cities and towns, and fewer natural resources overall.
Enbridge strongly encourages public input. We encourage you to provide your thoughts at the Department of Commerce scoping meeting closest to your community or by providing your comments in writing to the Department.
The meetings in Park Rapids will take place on Tuesday, May 3 at 10 a.m. at the American Legion and at 6 p.m. at the Park Rapids Century School. Comments will also be accepted through Thursday, May 26, 2016 online or by mail.
U.S. mail: Jamie MacAlister, Environmental Review Manager; Minnesota Department of Commerce
85 7th Place East, Suite 500
St. Paul, MN 55101
(John Swanson is Vice President, U.S. Major Projects Execution for Enbridge.)