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Reader’s View: Don’t sacrifice environment for economic development

Nobody disputes economic development is important. But we don’t have to compromise a safe environment for our children, grandchildren, and future generations to ensure economic development.

Enbridge is proposing a pipeline-replacement project across northern Minnesota. We should be concerned.

Here’s just a partial list of Enbridge spills. In 2002, in Cohasset, 250,000 gallons of crude oil spilled, causing long-term damage to wetland, vegetation, and wildlife habitats. In Superior in 2003, 19,000 gallons of crude oil spilled onto the Nemadji River ice, which feeds into Lake Superior. The same year, more than 100,000 gallons spilled two miles from Lake Superior near the company's terminal.

In 2009, Enbridge was fined $1 million for 100 environmental violations across 320 miles of Wisconsin pipeline. Violations included illegal clearing and disrupting of wooded wetlands and degrading property. Worse, in 2010, Enbridge took 17 hours to recognize a disastrous leak in Kalamazoo, Mich. That spill resulted in more than 1 million gallons of released crude oil, one of the largest inland oil spills ever in the U.S. Clean-up of the Kalamazoo River took at least four years, cost $1.2 billion, and resulted in a $177 million settlement.

This partial list should alarm Minnesotans. In September, the Minnesota Department of Commerce released a report stating Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline was unnecessary, the pipes Enbridge proposed using for the replacement were of insufficient thickness, and the project would require improved monitoring.

It‘s uncertain how many permanent Minnesota jobs the pipeline will produce. If we want to increase the number of permanent energy jobs we must look to the fast-growing wind and solar industries. We can maintain a safe environment for future generations and grow the economy. Minnesotans can do this by choosing energy sources of the future economy, not the past economy.

Peggy Maki