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Oil Company Plans To Ship Ethanol From Port Of Milwaukee

Access Line Raises Environmental Concerns Among Milwaukee Common Council Members

Port of Milwaukee
Michael Pereckas (CC BY 2.0)

Appleton-based U.S. Venture Inc. has received approval from a Milwaukee Common Council committee to ship ethanol from the Port of Milwaukee despite the plan raising environmental concerns.

U.S. Oil, a division of parent company U.S. Venture Inc., plans to build a 1,000-foot-long, $3.5 million access line from U.S. Oil’s tank yard at the port to a cargo pier in Lake Michigan. The pipeline allows ethanol to be shipped across the Great Lakes.

The Milwaukee County Common Council Public Works Committee approved amending U.S. Oil’s lease Wednesday to expand its property to build the access line.

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Milwaukee Alderman Nik Kovac said he has concerns about the plan.

“The immediate concerns of spills or fire,” he said. “And then the second concern, which would apply more to the potential for crude oil than ethanol, is are we building infrastructure that will encourage unsustainable use of the world’s resources and global warming?”

Kovac said the shipping of ethanol could also lead to an increase in heavy truck traffic. In the past, petroleum products have been shipped in and out of the Milwaukee port, but not recently, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

U.S. Oil Vice President Mike Koel said they have a track record of responsible shipping.

“We have done this exact same activity in Green Bay for the last six years,” Koel said. “We have exported ethanol to Montreal and Quebec with no incidents.”

Koel said they have no plans to ship crude oil. The company already has approval from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to house ethanol at the Port of Milwaukee.

The plan will be taken up at the next full common council meeting Wednesday, May 31.