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Other View: News Tribune not alone with Sandpiper support

As policy debates get more partisan and the media host more voices of the hard left and far right, one source of centrism remains: newspaper editorials.

As policy debates get more partisan and the media host more voices of the hard left and far right, one source of centrism remains: newspaper editorials.

At most newspapers, editorials represent the views of the editorial board, not just one person. Further, because board members not only live in the community but also hail from all points along the political spectrum, editorials at their best often take a common-sense, consensus or compromise approach.

All of which is not to toot any editorial board's horn; instead, it's to point out that where the Sandpiper pipeline is concerned, Minnesota's editorial boards have spoken. And their verdict - for whatever it's worth - is that the pipeline is good.

Over the past year, editorial boards at a number of Minnesota and North Dakota newspapers have opined on the pipeline, which would cross Minnesota to carry Bakken oil to Superior.

"The oil will move from well to refinery.That's a guarantee," the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead editorialized in January. "The question is how to do it most efficiently and most safely. By all measures, pipelines are best. ... (A)t the end of the day, regulators should approve the new line across northern Minnesota from the North Dakota line to Superior."

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Last week the Duluth News Tribune agreed. That's important: Remember, Duluth and Superior comprise the Twin Ports, the vital harbor at the western end of Lake Superior. A pipeline spill there could be devastating; but as the News Tribune's editorial board points out, the train-wreck risk is greater still:

"Yes, pipelines sometimes fail, too, spewing oil and causing environmental damage. But pipelines still are the far safer option, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. ... (Moreover), rather than costing money, the 600-mile Sandpiper pipeline promises to pour billions into the Minnesota and North Dakota economies. Construction costs are estimated at $2.6 billion, about 3,000 workers are expected to be needed to build it, and it's to generate about $25 million in property tax revenue for the state of Minnesota in its first year of operation alone. Similar annual tax revenue can be expected in subsequent years. ...

"That's a lot of important economic impact - with the least amount of risk."

At the Brainerd Dispatch, in the heart of lake country, pipeline safety also tilts the scale. And "for that reason, we hope the state of Minnesota will not only approve Enbridge's Sandpiper pipeline route, but approve it close to the corridor already selected by Enbridge," the Dispatch editorialized.

True, the Herald, the Forum, the News Tribune and the Dispatch all are Forum Communications-owned newspapers. That's irrelevant, though, because all four editorial boards reached their conclusions independently.

But even if it were relevant (which it's not), the Mesabi Daily News is not a Forum paper, and it's pro-pipeline, too. "The pipeline will also provide a much safer means of travel for the Bakken oil than by rail," the Virginia, Minn.-based newspaper declared.

The Gannett-owned St. Cloud Times also is convinced: "(O)il trains also pose a higher safety risk to population centers along the tracks, including cities in the St. Cloud area," the Times' editorial noted.

"This (Sandpiper) project would clearly reduce some of the rail traffic transporting oil along Minnesota's rail lines."

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And the Albert Lea Tribune is independently owned, but it's on board as well. "An oil pipeline is needed between western North Dakota and the Twin Ports of Duluth and Superior, Wis., or else Midwestern farmers year in and year out will struggle to move their crops to from grain elevators to buyers," the farm-country daily in southern Minnesota declared.

Editorial board members aren't scientists, nor are they regulators or elected officials. But they are concerned and informed citizens, and when they decisively come down on one side of a statewide issue, that fact should carry weight.

 

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