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Letter: Can you hear us now?

The answer is NO! It is clear from the Department of Commerce’s draft of the outline of environmental matters (Scoping) to be considered in the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and the public’s comments at the May 3 public meetings that the DOC continues to ignore numerous environmental issues and is still advocating for Enbridge. The DOC refuses to acknowledge that its responsibility under law and rule is to advocate for the public’s best interest in these environmental matters.

After two-plus years of meetings, documents and hearings among the DOC and the Friends of Headwaters and other groups, tribes and individuals, the DOC has not heard us - not one thing that has been said about why the pipeline must be relocated in order to protect our high quality water resources, the environment and other natural resources.

For example, the DOC’s draft Scoping adopts Enbridge’s private purpose route to get oil to Superior as the "Project Purpose" which eliminates all of the previously proposed system alternatives which protect our water resources, the environment and natural resources and provides that there will be no independent field study of a number of environmental conditions because the DOC wants to rely on Enbridge’s prior testing of those conditions. Additionally, pursuant to a memorandum agreement with the DOC there is no assurance that the MPCA and DNR will participate the preparation of the EIS.

We cannot rely on Enbridge or the DOC. We need to remember that (a) the Project Purpose is to get oil from the Bakken to pipeline hubs or refineries in southern Minnesota or Illinois and all the system alternatives must be considered, (b) the field testing must be done by independent experts, (c) Enbridge claims that based on its analysis and testing that its route is in the public’s best interest and no system alternatives should be considered, and (d) in the DOC’s environmental report to the PUC it excluded the MPCA and DNR from participating and told the PUC, the parties and the public that the potential environmental impact of an oil spill would be the same if it occurred in a ditch with water, the Mississippi, a lake, our aquifer, etc!

It is time for the DOC to step aside and for the MPCA and DNR to prepare the EIS to ensure its quality and advocate for the public’s best interest.

Chuck Diessner, Park Rapids