Enbridge Energy has proposed a $7 billion upgrade to their existing "Line 3" pipeline , which runs from the Canadian oil tar sands to Superior. Environmental groups compare this with the stalled Keystone XL pipeline.
The expansion would replace a 47-year-old pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin. Enbridge spokeswoman Lorraine Little says the 1,000-mile long line would almost double the carrying capacity from the Alberta oil sands region.
“As the production capability of the oil sands increases, as well as the Bakken oil fields increases, then refineries around the Midwest want access to that oil,” Little said. “That pipeline capacity needs to be there in order to help meet that demand.”
The capacity would increase 15 million gallons a day.
Wisconsin Sierra Club John Muir Chapter President Shahla Werner says after a million gallon spill into Kalamazoo River in 2010, this Enbridge line is as potentially hazardous as the higher profile Keystone pipeline, which is still waiting for approval from the State Department.
“The public should not just be concerned about Keystone and it's not just about the impacts in Canada. It's a real risk to our Great Lakes region and to Lake Superior,” Werner said.
Werner says this expansion needs a presidential permit.
“They're increasing the capacity of the line by 360,000 barrels a day and they're changing the type of oil so that it can carry both light and tar sands oil,” Werner said. “So they're changing the product. Sierra Club's been working on blocking tar sands expansion for a long time.”
Little says this is simply replacing an existing pipeline.
“Line 3 already has a presidential permit and under the presidential permit maintenance, it's a required activity that Enbridge is obligated to do to meet our permit conditions,” Little said.
Enbridge hopes to have the pipeline expansion done and carrying oil by mid-2017.