Five St. Louis County commissioners have joined their counterparts in other northern Minnesota counties supporting construction of new and expanded oil pipelines across the region.

St. Louis County commissioners Steve Raukar, Keith Nelson, Tom Rukavina, Pete Stauber and Chris Dahlberg signed a letter to Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton urging his support in speeding up the permitting process for Enbridge Energy’s proposed Sandpiper and Line 3 Replacement pipelines across Minnesota to move western state and Canadian oil to its Superior terminal and on to points south and east.

St. Louis County commissioners took no formal vote of direct support for the project, and two commissioners did not sign. The signatories join one commissioner for Polk, four from Aitkin, one from Beltrami, one from Carlton, one from Clearwater, one from Kittson, two from Marshall, one from Pennington and five from Red Lake counties in signing the letter to Dayton.

The commissioners noted they had requested a meeting with Dayton but said the governor was unable to schedule one.

“We are county commissioners from counties along the Enbridge Mainline system and the Sandpiper Pipeline and Line 3 Replacement Project routes in northern Minnesota. We requested a meeting with you several weeks ago in the hope of sharing our support for these projects and how important they are to our constituents; the Minnesotans who have lived and worked alongside Enbridge’s existing pipelines for 65-plus years,’’ the letter notes.

“... We appreciate that you understand how important these projects are to our economy and the safety of all Minnesotans located along the oil train routes that cross our state. Every day of further delay is another day that more oil is unnecessarily crossing our state on trains instead of in pipelines where it belongs.”

The letter goes on to note that Enbridge will end up paying millions in added property taxes to the counties that the pipelines cross. The letter also asks that Dayton urge his state agencies conducting environmental and other reviews of the pipeline projects to speed up their work so the projects can be constructed quickly.

The Sandpiper and Line 3 Replacement projects are on hold pending a joint environmental review on the potential routes across the state.

Opponents say the pipelines pose increased risk to pollute waterways across the routes, and they say the pipelines will bring added oil into the region and increase the carbon dioxide pollution that most scientists say is contributing to global climate change.

Supporters say pipelines are simply meeting consumer demand for fuel and that they are the safest way to move oil.