I write concerning the proposed Sandpiper pipeline Enbridge Energy Partners wants to build across Cass County. Besides answering John Weber’s letter’s questions about defining progress and who ultimately pays for the proposed line and resulting damage, let’s learn about pipelines and Enbridge’s record.
Because pipelines are buried, there is damage to soil structure and to land along the line. Although Enbridge claims to have pressure sensors along their pipelines to detect leaks, its pipelines have had about 800 spills since 1999 (National Wildlife, 10/13).
Some were discovered by landowners and others, not Enbridge, including spills in the Cass Lake and Deer River areas. At least one of these caused illness to livestock and the landowner. Marty Cobenais, formerly of the Indigenous Environmental Network, reports five spills on the Leech Lake Reservation with only one cleaned up.
Plans describe a diameter increase from 24 inches to 36 inches at Clearbrook. Coincidentally, Clearbrook is where Tar Sands crude comes down from Canada. Although Enbridge has not explained this increase, it begs the question of whether the proposed line will carry Tar Sands oil. Tar Sands crude’s higher levels of toxicity are worrisome in case of spills.
The proposed route will carry oil through Minnesota, improving neither our gas supply or prices. As Cobenais suggests, it could be exported. On its way to Superior, Wis., the Sandpiper would cross the Mississippi in Hubbard County, the Pine River in Cass, farmland, wetlands and woods.
Do we want to risk damage to these, to our water supply, to our health?
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will hold public meetings, announced in local media, along the proposed route. If you care about land, water and air quality in your back yard, learn about pipelines and Enbridge’s record, and attend a meeting to ask questions or make a statement.