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In response: Oil pipelines put state waters at risk

Jeff Mosner

The current slate of public hearings scheduled across Minnesota marks the third time since 2014 the Public Utilities Commission has allowed for citizen input on the oil pipelines proposed by Enbridge. In a commentary published in the May 1 News Tribune Opinion section, an Enbridge vice president, John Swanson, urged public participation (“Enbridge’s View: Public input urged on pipeline projects”).

However, Swanson also revealed his and his employer’s apparent real intent, which is to sway public opinion. To do so, he utilized half-truths.

He stated the proposed pipeline projects (yes, we are talking about two huge pipelines) “have broad and deep support throughout Minnesota,” and, “Enbridge has secured easement agreements with approximately 95 percent of private landowners along the proposed routes.” Unfortunately, some of those landowners have said they were financially coerced into agreements. In addition, considering only the affected landowners hardly results in an accurate measure of support.

According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, 90 percent of comments submitted by citizens and organizations during the Sandpiper hearings in 2014 and 2015 were in opposition to this pipeline or its proposed route.

In an apparent attempt to make us all think this $40 billion Canadian company knows what is best for us, Swanson also stated that, “Protecting the environment is important to all of us,” and, “The proposed route provides the best balance for Minnesota.” If these statements were true, why did Enbridge appeal a court-ordered Environmental Impact Statement to the Minnesota Supreme Court (“Minnesota Supreme Court lets Sandpiper ruling stand,” Dec. 16)?

The scoping of this Environmental Impact Statement is the purpose of the current slate of public hearings, including two hearings Thursday at Black Bear Casino Resort in Carlton.The three-hour sessions are scheduled for 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

I wonder what Enbridge is afraid an Environmental Impact Statement might discover. That a better route may cost the company more? Or that there exists no public need for another pipeline corridor carved across Minnesota?

According to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board, in 2015 alone, Enbridge employed 17 lobbyists and spent $2 million working over state officials. Could they be behind the bill in the Legislature that, if passed, would eliminate the certificate-of-need permit for these and future pipelines? Follow the money.

Standing between this foreign company and the Department of Commerce, which has been all too willing in the past to promote business at the expense of the environment, are a few local activist groups and their supporters concerned about the catastrophic risks to our water resources if we allow over 1.1 million barrels of toxic crude per day to be funneled across our Mississippi headwaters and northern Minnesota. Friends of the Headwaters, based in Park Rapids, Minn., is one of these groups. Since 2014, we have been advocating for a comprehensive Environmental Impact Statement.

Yes, come participate in the latest slate of public hearings, submit written comments or sign a petition calling for a strong Environmental Impact Statement. Details about how are at friendsoftheheadwaters.org/take-action.html.

Jeff Mosner of Park Rapids, Minn., is a member of Friends of the Headwaters (friendsoftheheadwaters.org).

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