Vote Expected This Week On Oil Pipeline Through Minnesota, Wisconsin

Enbridge Sandpiper Line Would Move Bakken Oil To Superior

Environmental Defence Canada (CC-BY-NC)

The path forward for two oil pipeline projects in Wisconsin is set to be decided this week but the fate of one will be determined in Minnesota.

Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission will decide whether Enbridge Energy can move forward with building its Sandpiper project. The pipeline would carry 600,000 barrels per day from North Dakota’s Bakken region to the terminal in Superior. Enbridge spokeswoman Lorraine Little said the line is needed as the Bakken has put out more than a million barrels per day.

“About 60 to 70 percent of the crude oil being produced right now out of the Bakken is moving by train. Sandpiper would help alleviate that,” said little.

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But Elizabeth Ward, program coordinator for the John Muir Sierra Club, said that doesn’t alleviate her fears.

“We just keep seeing what feels like more and more pipelines for Enbridge to get more and more oil through Wisconsin, and that’s concerning because of the risks that poses,” Ward said.

The $2.6 billion pipeline project would span 616 miles. Enbridge spokeswoman Little said the company has 95 percent of the easement agreements along the route. The company hopes to move forward with a routing permit for the pipeline if the commission approves construction. The commission is set to make a decision on Friday.

Enbridge wants to have Sandpiper in service by 2017.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story mistakenly put the cost of the pipeline at $7 billion. That figure refers to a different Enbridge project. The correct cost is $2.6 billion. The story has been updated.