Fwd: Bakken-bearing pipeline meets stiff opposition in the Land of 10, 000 Lakes
From: Scott Jackson (sjackzen46gmail.com)
Date: Mon, 13 Apr 2015 22:31:46 -0700 (PDT)
Here's an article from E&E Publishing by way of the stalwart Wanda
Ballentine about the Sandpiper pipeline.

Scott Jackson
sjackzen46 [at] gmail.com

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Wanda Ballentine <wsb70 [at] comcast.net>
Date: Mon, Apr 13, 2015 at 9:52 PM
Subject: Bakken-bearing pipeline meets stiff opposition in the Land of
10,000 Lakes

* http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060016516
<http://www.eenews.net/stories/1060016516>Bakken-bearing pipeline meets
stiff opposition in the Land of 10,000 Lakes Daniel Cusick, E&E reporter
EnergyWire: Friday, April 10, 2015 MINNEAPOLIS -- A Canadian company
proposes a multibillion-dollar oil pipeline through some of the Midwest's
prized lakes and wetlands, igniting a firestorm among environmentalists,
tribes and anti-fossil fuel activists who say the proposal is built on
hollow promises of economic development and dubious claims of environmental
protection. Sound familiar? It should. But the pipeline isn't Keystone XL,
and its developer is not TransCanada Corp., purveyor of the most polarizing
energy project since the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository. It is
called Sandpiper, and its developer is Enbridge Corp., another Calgary,
Alberta-based conglomerate whose extensive oil and gas pipeline network
plunges deep into the U.S. interior. The $2.6 billion Sandpiper project,
which would move 225,000 barrels of crude per day roughly 610 miles from
the Bakken oil fields of North Dakota to an Enbridge hub in Superior, Wis.,
has been approved by North Dakota regulators. But it remains under
administrative review in Minnesota, where developers are seeking a
certificate of need to ship the oil and a route permit to build the
pipeline across 300 miles of the state's Lakes Belt. An administrative law
judge in St. Paul next week is expected to issue an advisory opinion that
the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will use to resolve some thorny
questions around Sandpiper, including whether the line is necessary and
what route it should follow to move Bakken crude across Minnesota to
Wisconsin, where it would flow to other Enbridge lines serving refineries
in Michigan, Illinois and Ohio. Opponents of Enbridge’s Sandpiper Pipeline
are challenging the project through administrative and legal channels as
well as through demonstrations and public displays along the pipeline’s
route through rural Minnesota. Photo by Daniel Cusick. Enbridge's
subsidiary, North Dakota Pipeline Co., argues that the new line is
necessary to meet growing demand for crude by those refineries, and it has
secured contracts from a number of shippers to use the line, according to
Enbridge officials. Those offtakers include Ohio-based Marathon Petroleum
Corp., which in 2013 agreed to become Sandpiper's "anchor shipper" while
also becoming a co-investor, shouldering 37.5 percent of the line's cost.
Marathon's president and CEO, Gary Heminger, has said the Sandpiper
investment will give Marathon a 27 percent stake in Enbridge's North Dakota
pipeline system once the line is completed and provide "additional access
to growing crude oil production from the Bakken Shale play and Canada, and
direct participation in the transportation of these crudes into our
markets." The opening of a new corridor through Minnesota will also help
Enbridge manage aging infrastructure along its existing pipeline route
through the Upper Great Lakes, known as the Lakehead System. Currently, six
existing pipelines, some built as early as the 1950s, follow the Lakehead
System route from a key Enbridge oil terminal in Clearbrook, in northwest
Minnesota, to the cities of Bemidji and Grand Rapids before dipping south
to Duluth and Superior. Clearbrook is also the primary U.S. hub on
Enbridge's system for delivering Canadian tar sands oil from Alberta into
the United States, and Enbridge has invested heavily in recent years to
upgrade those lines, including adding new pump stations in Minnesota that
will push up to 800,000 barrels per day of heavy Canadian crude to U.S.
refineries. Moreover, if Sandpiper is approved, Enbridge has said it will
pursue another set of state permits to relocate one of its key Lakehead
pipelines, known as Line 3, that was built in 1968 and is in need of
retirement. Rather than rebuild Line 3 in its existing corridor, Enbridge
has said it would prefer to relocate the line along the Sandpiper route at
a cost of roughly $2.3 billion. But environmental opposition, combined with
lengthy regulatory proceedings, sagging oil prices and a troubling history
of spills, including an 840,000-gallon contamination of Michigan's
Kalamazoo River in 2010, have created considerable hurdles for Enbridge as
it tries to push through one of its most ambitious U.S. pipeline expansions
in recent memory. The stakes -- for Enbridge, for its U.S. customers, and
for residents and tribes in North Dakota and Minnesota -- are high. If the
Sandpiper line is built, the company says, millions of barrels of Bakken
crude will be moved more safely and cheaply across northern Minnesota,
while at the same time alleviating rail corridor congestion and reducing
the risk of rail accidents like the Dec. 30, 2013, fiery collision between
a derailed grain train and 108-car oil train near Casselton, N.D.,
resulting in 400,000 gallons of spilled crude and the evacuation of 1,400
residents.**Dealing with the 'Keystone effect'*

*Currently, more than two-thirds of the North Dakota's oil exports are
shipped by rail using tanker cars, according to federal estimates, many of
which lack the kind of safety features that have been proposed by the U.S.
Department of Transportation and could become law later this year. More
recent rail accidents, including oil train derailments in West Virginia and
Illinois, have further pressured the oil and gas industry, railroads and
government officials to find alternatives to shipping oil across long
distances by rail and truck. But if shipping crude by rail has come under
tough scrutiny from the public and regulators, pipelines have fared little
better, as evidenced by the industry's track record of spills -- estimated
at 1,400 "significant incidents" since 1986 -- and the deep political
fissure over Keystone XL, which after years of languishing under a State
Department review succumbed to a presidential veto in February after
Republicans in Congress sought to approve the line legislatively. The
"Keystone effect," as some have called it, goes beyond concerns about
pipeline safety and routing to incorporate a broad suite of environmental
issues, among them fossil fuel dependency and oil consumption's
contribution to greenhouse gases that drive climate change. Al Monaco,
Enbridge's president and CEO, addressed some of those challenges in a
speech to business executives in Minneapolis late last month. "Solving
infrastructure problems at its base is not rocket science," he told the
Minnesota-Canada Business Council, stressing the advanced technologies and
materials deployed by industry to site new oil pipelines, inspect existing
lines, and detect problems early and respond quickly. The bigger challenge,
Monaco said, stems from organized opposition to traditional energy
resources and even some renewable resources such as wind turbines, and "the
elevation of regional energy projects to a national policy debate." "This
isn't just short-term noise," Monaco said. "Today, our regulators, our
political leaders, our employees and the public, they expect more of energy
companies. They want to know what we're doing to continually improve, to
get better." Working around the 'Lakes Belt'For critics like Kathryn
Hoffman, an attorney with the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy,
"getting better" means several things, including acknowledging mistakes and
correcting operational problems that cast doubt on Enbridge's safety track
record, including the record 2010 spill in Michigan, where cleanup remains
a work in progress after $1 billion spent. Hoffman and her client, the
nonprofit group Friends of the Headwaters, also want Enbridge to explore
alternatives to its preferred Sandpiper route, which crosses northern
Minnesota's "Lakes Belt," a region dense in lakes, streams, wetlands and
forest. To date, the company has refused to look at alternatives, saying
its chosen Sandpiper route offers the best conditions, both environmentally
and economically, for the line to make its way from an existing oil
terminal in Clearbrook to its terminus at Duluth-Superior. Hoffman, who has
petitioned <http://www.eenews.net/assets/2015/04/09/document_pm_02.pdf> the
Minnesota Court of Appeals to force a more detailed environmental review of
Sandpiper than what is required by the PUC, said her client is not seeking
to simply block the Sandpiper line from being constructed. Rather, she
wants Enbridge to more fully examine the preferred route's impacts to
natural areas and weigh those findings against alternative routes that run
along more developed corridors. "Our position is that the proposed route is
probably one of the worst locations in the state of Minnesota to run a
pipeline," she said. Similar concerns were raised by Minnesota's two
environmental agencies -- the Department of Natural Resources and the
Minnesota Pollution Control Agency -- prompting the PUC last September to
take an unprecedented step of asking for more information on alternative
routes. The Minnesota Department of Commerce provided a detailed report
<http://mn.gov/commerce/energyfacilities/resource.html?Id=34042> on six
alternatives last December, but Enbridge maintains that none is viable
because all are longer, are more expensive to build and do not pass through
its terminal at Clearbrook, a critical element of the project. "The
fundamentals behind the project call for leveraging the existing
infrastructure that's already in place," Paul Eberth, Enbridge's
Wisconsin-based Sandpiper project manager, said in a telephone interview.
"By going to Clearbrook and then to Superior, we can make connections to
customers without having to build a new line all the way down to the
southern part of the state," as most of the alternatives propose. 'Oil
companies are asking too much of our state'But opponents of Sandpiper in
its current configuration say southern Minnesota, where farming and
urbanization have already altered much of the natural landscape, is exactly
where new oil pipelines belong. Among those pushing for a re-route are
members of the state's 40,000-person Ojibwe tribe, also known as the
Chippewa or Anishinaabe, whose leaders maintain that the Sandpiper project
threatens to foul northern Minnesota's pristine waters with oil and disrupt
traditional activities such as wild rice harvesting that are central to
Native American life in the Great Lakes region. Frank Bibeau, an attorney
and member of the White Earth Nation of Ojibwe, whose reservation extends
across three northern Minnesota counties, said in an interview that
Enbridge has failed to examine such impacts in its Sandpiper routing
decision. Moreover, the company continues to maintain that the pipeline
does not physically cross tribal lands and therefore does not violate the
tribe's rights. "We beg to differ with them on that point, and strongly,"
said Bibeau, who maintains that the tribe's treaty rights extend beyond
reservation boundaries when dealing with traditional activities like wild
rice harvesting. Honor the Earth, a national activist group led by White
Earth member Winona LaDuke, the former Green Party vice presidential
candidate, has also pressed state officials, including Gov. Mark Dayton
(D), to force a reconsideration of Sandpiper's current route and issue a
moratorium on any new pipeline development in the state's lakes region.
[image: Enbridge in MN] Minnesota has long been a key pass-through state
for Enbridge oil pipelines, including some lines that have operated since
the 1950s. A proposal from the Alberta-based company would create a new
pipeline corridor through the state. The project, called Sandpiper, would
carry 225,000 barrels per day of Bakken crude to an Enbridge terminal in
Superior, Wis. Map data courtesy of Enbridge. "Oil companies are asking too
much of our state," LaDuke wrote in a letter to the governor. "While we
remain a fossil fuel economy at present, sending one new pipeline ...
across the beautiful North Country is wrong and is not a good move for
Minnesota." The group has taken its message public, too, with colorful
roadside billboards and horseback rallies in hamlets like Backus, Minn.,
where the pipeline is proposed to cross an arterial highway just south of
the Corner Store Restaurant & Gun Shop, a local gathering spot. On a recent
afternoon, Dave Sheley, the Corner Store's owner and proprietor for 18
years, said the Sandpiper project has been a regular topic of conversation,
both pro and con, among patrons of his cafe. He described Backus and
surrounding Pine County as "a poor community in general with a rich
sub-community of cabin owners," many of whom trek north on weekends from
the Twin Cities to fish, swim, boat, bicycle or hunt in the region that
otherwise has little happening economically. While some are encouraged by
Enbridge’s promise of 1,500 construction jobs and an estimated $25 million
in new annual tax revenue, others say such benefits are countered by the
intrusion of a major oil pipeline and the long-term risk of an accident or
spill. Sheley said he has seen a smattering of new business from surveyors
and consultants working along the corridor route, which parallels an
electricity transmission line. But he also knows that any surge in business
during the line's construction would be temporary, and the greatest
economic benefit will go to landowners who have cut deals with Enbridge to
route the pipeline across their property. "I don't own any land where they
want to build, so I don't have skin in the game," he said. "For the most
part, I'd say those people tend to be the most positive about it. But I can
also see why the cabin owners and naturalist groups are concerned. A spill
would be a big bummer if it happened." *
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