Pipeline battle in Minnesota pits Enbridge against native, environmental groups
Native and environmental groups are fighting a pair of proposed Enbridge pipelines that would cross lake-dotted country in northern Minnesota.
The Sandpiper and Line 3 Replacement projects would take the same route through much of the state _ carrying North Dakota light oil and oilsands crude, respectively, to Superior, Wisc.
Opponents are using a variety of legal and bureaucratic means to stymie the pipelines, which are at different stages in the Minnesota regulatory process. Both are slated to start up in 2017.
For Ojibwe communities near the headwaters of the Mississippi River, the big concern is over wild rice beds, said Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth, an environmental group based on the White Earth reservation.
Not only is wild rice a sacred crop to her people, but it’s a major source of income, said LaDuke.
“It is the only thing our people can count on. You cannot count on the U.S. economy,’’ she said.
“But you can count on your rice.’’
The $2.6-billion Sandpiper pipeline is already about a year behind schedule because the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission last fall decided to review the need for the project and its route separately, rather than at the same time.
The commission granted Enbridge a certificate of need for Sandpiper in early June, a move that LaDuke said was tantamount to a “declaration of war.’’ Groups are planning to challenge the certificate as soon as they’re able. The route permitting process is now underway.
Meanwhile, the commission is just about to begin reviewing the Line 3 Replacement.