Letter to the editor: The 'other' invasive

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Finally, opening day of fishing!

I love to fish and I am not alone. According to the DNR, there are 1.4 million licensed anglers in Minnesota, and many will be out today on one of our 5,400 fishable lakes or 18,000 miles of fishable streams.

After moving from the Twin Cities to the Park Rapids area several years ago, I have come to treasure our beautiful, clean lakes. However, aquatic invasive species (AIS) is threatening our lakes, too.

We fishermen and boaters need to follow the fairly simple, but critical steps to keep our lakes fishable, swimmable and enjoyable.

But our waters face an additional threat from yet another invasive. I first wrote about this threat in 2014. At that time it was the Sandpiper oil pipeline proposed by Enbridge. Although that proposal was withdrawn in 2016, Enbridge now wants to reroute an existing pipeline (Line 3), which is 50 years old and leaking, right through the heart of our cleanest, best fishing lakes in Minnesota.

Enbridge says their pipelines are safe, but pipelines have spilled millions of gallons of oil all across the U.S. Actually, the largest oil spill in U.S. history occurred right here in Minnesota in 1991 near Grand Rapids, on Enbridge's Line 3. Fortunately, this spill happened during winter when the frozen landscape averted the disaster of 1 million gallons of oil flowing into the Mississippi River, unlike Enbridge's Kalamazoo River spill which polluted nearly 40 miles of the river in July 2010.

The proposed new and larger Line 3 would be one of the largest crude oil pipelines on the continent, carrying up to 760,000 barrels of toxic tar sands oil per day.

I am not against oil or pipelines. I need gas for my outboard and my truck to haul my boat around. But the U.S. is awash in oil, thanks in part to EPA fuel economy standards and conservation efforts. At the same time, supply is up, to the point we are running out of facilities to store the excess and we are now selling our oil to other countries.

If the Environmental Impact Study currently underway on this project determines there is a need for this pipeline, I hope they would choose a route that does not cross our sandy, permeable soil found in Hubbard County and much of Northern Minnesota. This soil may be good at growing potatoes but it is not good at keeping spilled oil from poisoning our drinking water aquifers and lakes. Better routes exist, ones that avoid our lake country's permeable soil and delivers this oil more directly to the refineries in Illinois, where most of it is destined.

Let's keep ALL the invasives from harming our waters.