Enbridge says oil pipeline plan delayed until 2019

The Canada-based company originally slated a 2017 build date for two pipeline projects.

by Eliana Schreiber

Controversial oil pipelines slated to run through the state will be delayed following a Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling.
 
 
Canada-based company Enbridge announced last month to investors that the completion of two of its pipeline projects proposed for northern Minnesota will be delayed until early 2019 because of the ruling.
 
 
In September, the court of appeals required that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission conduct an environmental impact statement. The move revoked a previous certificate of need awarded in June by the MPUC to the North Dakota Pipeline Company LLC, a subsidiary of Enbridge.
 
 
The original build date for the two projects — the Sandpiper pipeline and the replacement of an existing pipeline — was scheduled for 2017, Enbridge spokesperson Lorraine Little said.
 
 
“The company is still very much on board with completing these two projects,” Little said.
 
 
The company announced the delay to finish the final environmental impact statement before it can proceed with getting the proper permits, she said. 
 
 
While the company was unhappy about delays in the project, environmental advocacy groups lauded the state’s decision to review the project.
 
 
Andy Pearson, a coordinator for advocacy group MN350, said MN350 believes a full and accurate environmental review will show that it shouldn’t be built.
 
 
He said skipping the environmental review process would have been problematic because it removed the option to reject the project.
 
 
“The fact that Enbridge is complaining about this just means that they’re used to getting their way without actually going through any required review,” Pearson said.
 
 
The pipelines would import oil from the tar sands in Canada and the Bakken Formation in North Dakota, which releases carbon emissions, Pearson said, pointing to current research and last year’s climate talks in Paris.
 
 
Enbridge’s proposed pipelines would also pose a risk to the northern Minnesota tourism industry, he said, as well as the region’s cultural significance and treaty rights.
 
 
Honor the Earth Great Lakes organizer Korey Northrup,  who is also co-chair of the Native Nations Student Organization at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, said the affected area is rich in resources and is a place where residents gather medicine and collect maple syrup.
 
 
“I’m supposed to have a treaty to go out there and collect maple syrup, and I feel like they’re encroaching on my right to do that,” Northrup said.
 
 
When pipelines cross through the reservation, they damage the land and affect its ecosystem, including the animals that live there, she said. Less land for the animals to live on can also lower the number of animals to hunt, Northrup said, affecting the community’s livelihood.
 
 
The impact on the area’s water resources could also pose a risk to people within and outside the Native American community, Northrup said.
 
 
“For me, as a Native person, it is my job to speak for the water because … that’s part of who we are as people,” Northrup said.