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Sandpiper certificate of need approved

One more major step toward construction of the proposed Sandpiper oil pipeline has been completed, but a route must still be approved. The Sandpiper, a proposed oil pipeline to transport Bakken crude through Minnesota, including through parts of ...

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One more major step toward construction of the proposed Sandpiper oil pipeline has been completed, but a route must still be approved.

The Sandpiper, a proposed oil pipeline to transport Bakken crude through Minnesota, including through parts of Cass and Crow Wing counties, began its slow progress through legal channels in the fall of 2013, when the Enbridge Energy corporation applied for a certificate of need and routing permit with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

At a June 5 public meeting the PUC voted to approve a certificate of need, but an exact agreement was needed. As of Monday, Aug. 3, the PUC had granted a certificate of need for the Sandpiper and formally issued that agreement, making the certificate of need official.

But there is still plenty of work to be done before any construction can begin.

Initially, the certificate of need and routing permit were scheduled to be considered simultaneously; however, the route became controversial because it would travel near the Mississippi River headwaters and through the lakes area.

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Enbridge's preferred route passes just north of Pine River. In October of 2014, the routing permit discussion was suspended until a decision was reached on a certificate of need "to ensure that the pipeline project need could be fully considered before any decisions were made on a possible route for the pipeline," according to the PUC.

On Monday, the pipeline was granted a certificate of need, according to the PUC, with conditions. Conditions include requiring Enbridge to train local first responders for emergencies and to install permanent road access to shutoff valves.

Next, before any pipeline construction, there must be hearings and proceedings to award the route permit. The PUC must determine the scope of a comparative environmental analysis of the potential routes for the Sandpiper with the assistance of the Department of Commerce. The analysis would take into consideration the original proposed route, as well as up to 53 alternative routes submitted for consideration.

The analysis is supposed to give full consideration to the human and environmental impacts, including disruptions to nearby residents, businesses, roads and transportation, local government and judicial, private and county ditches, according to the PUC.

The analysis will also take into consideration Enbridge's intention to relocate its Line 3 pipeline, which is proposed to follow the same route. That consideration is also to include consideration of the specific product being transported in Line 3.

The deadline for the completion of route permit proceedings will be extended to allow for the environmental review. Individuals may submit requests to have the PUC reconsider the certificate of need within 20 days of the Aug. 3 issuance. The routing permit is expected to be complete some time in the next year.

Related Topics: LINE 3 REPLACEMENT PROJECT
Travis Grimler began work at the Echo Journal Jan. 2 of 2013 while the publication was still split in two as the Pine River Journal and Lake Country Echo. He is a full time reporter/photographer/videographer for the paper and operates primarily out of the northern stretch of the coverage area (Hackensack to Jenkins).
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