More than 200 responses came in during a public comment period about three massive oil tanks proposed to be built by Enbridge Energy Partners in Superior.
The number of comments over an air quality permit for the tanks took the Department of Natural Resources by surprise. Water management specialist Ben Callan says that’s unusually high. He says they’re still sifting through the letters, emails, and testimony.
“There have been some themes about wanting more information, wanting the department to do additional analysis on the application and things like that,” said Callan.
Callan can’t say if the comments were mostly for or against the air permit for the $150 million tanks that would create 125 construction jobs at the Enbridge Superior terminal this summer.
Enbridge was also surprised by the level of public interest. Spokeswoman Becky Haase says the tanks are important, but not exactly as controversial as something like the Keystone Pipeline.
“The air permit really focuses on the technical nature of the air emissions, so the fact that so many people would want to weigh in on that was surprising,” said Haase. “But that’s what public comment periods are for.”
A public hearing May 5 was standing room only in a small room at the Superior Public Library. Attendees were interested in construction jobs and oil terminal expansion. People in opposition to the project cited the oil coming from the frac sand mining in the Bakken fields of North Dakota and the tar sands oil of Alberta, Canada.
Callan says they’ll make a decision by July 18: “If there’s information that is provided or that we see as needing further analysis, then we have to go through that process. But that decision hasn’t been made yet.”
That decision may be challenged.