Supporters of the proposed Sandpiper oil pipeline told an administrative law judge yesterday that it will provide a safer and more efficient alternative to the trains that now carry most of the crude from the Bakken fields of North Dakota, while opponents said the project will exacerbate climate change.
About 302 miles of the proposed 616 mile pipeline would cut across northern Minnesota, transporting light crude from western North Dakota to the Enbridge oil terminal in Superior, Wisconsin.
It would be built by the North Dakota Pipeline Co. LLC, a joint venture between Enbridge Energy Partners and Marathon Petroleum.
The judge, Eric Lipman, is taking testimony for and against the project this week. His report and recommendations are due 15 April.
The final say on whether to grant a certificate of need will be up to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, which is expected to decide in June.
Enbridge officials testified as the first of five hearings kicked off Monday that the US$2.6 billion pipeline would safely carry around 225 000 bpd of oil that now travel mostly by rail. The company also says the Sandpiper project would create about 1500 construction jobs and generate about US$25 million a year in property taxes for the counties along the route.
"We feel that it is more efficient, and safer, and a better means of transportation, to put that in a pipe," Project Director Paul Eberth said.
Permitting complications in Minnesota have slowed the project. If approved, it likely wouldn’t be in service until 2017.
Environmentalists are pushing for a different route to avoid sensitive wetlands.
Edited from various sources by Elizabeth Corner
Sources: Star Tribune, Washington Times