Following is a summary of frequently asked questions about the Sandpiper pipeline, and what measures we can take to protest this. It is CRITICAL that you read through this, as time is of the essence. The comment period for this pipeline at the MN Public Utilities Commission (PUC) ends on April 3, 2014. We need to make our voices heard now!
Q. What is the proposed Sandpiper pipeline?
A. The Sandpiper pipeline would be a 610-mile, $2.6 billion pipeline across North Dakota and Minnesota to transport oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota (the fracking fields) to Superior, WI, so it could be loaded onto ships and rail for further transport.
Q. Who is behind this proposed Sandpiper pipeline?
A. The pipeline is being proposed by Enbridge Energy, a Calgary, Alberta, Canada, company, who already operates other oil pipelines in Minnesota.
Q. This is the first time I’ve heard of the proposed Sandpiper pipeline. Why haven’t I heard about this before now?
A. It is a uniquely North Woods problem, as many summer-only residents don’t know about the Sandpiper pipeline, and deserve a say on the route before regulators act. Enbridge announced the proposed route in November, after many seasonal residents had left. Yet the deadline for objections is April 3, 2014, before many seasonal residents return.
• For more information about the proposed pipeline, read the recent Star Tribune article from March 15, 2014. http://www.startribune.com/local/250421701.html
• Also, visit Friends of the Headwaters web site for more information: www.friendsoftheheadwaters.org
Q. Is this pipeline similar to the Keystone XL pipeline that we hear a lot about in the news?
A. They are both crude oil pipelines, but the Keystone XL pipeline is different in that it spans an international border with Canada, bringing Canadian crude oil into the United States, and thus requires a presidential permit of approval. President Obama is being lobbied hard NOT to grant approval. Because the proposed Sandpiper pipeline is contained within the United States, North Dakota through Minnesota to Superior, it conveniently DOES NOT need such a permit.
Q. Wouldn’t the Sandpiper pipeline need an environmental impact study conducted to make sure that it wouldn’t adversely harm the environment?
A. NO! Unlike the Keystone XL pipeline or the proposed Polymet Mine in northern Minnesota, the proposed Sandpiper pipeline NEEDS NO ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STUDY!
Q. When will the decision be made to approve the Sandpiper pipeline?
A. Very Soon! The public comment period ends on April 3, 2014. The MN Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is in charge of granting this permit. You can make your voice heard by reviewing the material listed below under “What Can I Do?” and taking action.
Q. How likely is it that the permit will be granted?
A. Unfortunately, very likely. However it is not guaranteed. That’s why you need to make your voice heard. See below for “What Can I Do?”.
Q. Enbridge has assured us that the pipeline will be safe. How likely is that?
A. Enbridge says the 30-inch-diameter pipeline will be built to high standards, with extra-thick steel where it crosses the Mississippi River and the other waterways like the Straight River, a trout stream. Enbridge’s safety record often gets mentioned, especially the 2010 rupture in Marshall, Michigan, whose release of 840,000 gallons of crude oil into waterways is projected to cost $1.1 billion to clean up. That’s roughly the price tag of the Minnesota portion of the Sandpiper line.
Q. How many spills has Enbridge had in Minnesota?
A. Since 1972, Enbridge Energy crude oil pipelines have had 23 major spills in Minnesota, according to a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency database of releases exceeding 10,000 gallons. The last major spill was in 2002.
Q. How does the Sandpiper pipeline impact Fifty Lakes property owners?
A. From a FLPOA perspective, this the pipeline is controversial because it is proposed to run under Daggett Creek, which is only a couple miles north of Mitchell Lake. Should there be a rupture in the pipeline, it would have catastrophic environmental consequences to Mitchell Lake, Eagle Lake and others in the Fifty Lakes/Daggett Creek watershed. You only need to review recent crude oil accidents like the Deepwater Horizon, or the previously mentioned 2010 rupture in Marshall, Michigan, to see how these consequences impact the environment and wildlife for years, or in the case of the Exxon Valdez in Alaska, decades.
Q. What can we do to prevent this pipeline from being built?
A. The best thing all of us can do is to make sure our voices are heard loud and clear by those who represent us. Please see below to learn about what you can do.
What Can I Do?
Following is a list of people and organizations you can contact to voice your opinion:
1. Comment at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) AGAINST the Sandpiper pipeline. You can do this online at: http://www.puc.state.mn.us/PUC/electricity/comment-on-an-issue/012412 (Scroll down until you see North Dakota Pipeline Company, LLC – Routing Permit for the Sandpiper Pipeline)
2. Contact our state and federal legislators who are responsible for Crow Wing and Cass Counties. Additionally, if you live elsewhere in Minnesota, it helps to contact your state representatives for your home district.
Representatives for District 10 & 10B Representing Northern Crow Wing County, including FLPOA
Joe Radinovich (DFL) MN House of Representatives
Web Page: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/members/members.asp?id=15412 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 651-296-2365 or 888-682-6154
Senator Carrie Ruud (R) MN Senate
Web Page: http://www.leg.state.mn.us/legdb/fulldetail.aspx?id=10804 Email: email@example.com Phone: 651-296-4913
Representing Western Cass County (Outing Area) District 5B
Tom Anzelc (DFL) MN House of Representatives
Web Page: http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/members/members.asp?id=15251 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 651-296-4936 or 800-336-9124
Senator Tom Saxhaug (DFL) MN Senate
Web Page: http://www.senate.leg.state.mn.us/members/member_bio.php?leg_id=10805 / Email: Form on Web Site / Phone: 651-296-4136
Senator Amy Klobuchar
Phone: 612-727-5220 or 1-888-224-9043
Senator Al Franken
3. Join, support and donate to Friends of the Headwaters, a citizens’ group opposed to the Sandpiper pipeline. This is an excellent source of background information on the Sandpiper Pipeline. www.friendsoftheheadwaters.org
4. Contact, join and donate to the Northstar Chapter (MN) of the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club is actively involved in lobbying at the Minnesota state legislature. They can help effect change but need volunteer support and donations. Contact: Margaret Levin, MN Director at 612-659-9124 ext. 306 or http://northstar.sierraclub.org/ to learn more.
5. Sign the Ronald Vegemast, of Outing, MN, Change.org petition against the pipeline. https://www.change.org/petitions/minnesota-puc-sandpiper-pipeline-consider-an-alternate-route-for-the-sandpiper-pipeline-ppl-13-474
Please remember that your voice makes a difference. Often times it only takes five phone calls about a specific topic for elected officials to take notice of a trend. And, please share this newsletter with family and friends, asking for their support. The more awareness, the better chance we have to make a change.
Thanks for your time, care and support of our precious Minnesota land and lakes!