Pipeline bat­tle in Min­nesota pits En­bridge against na­tive, en­vi­ron­men­tal groups

Cape Breton Post - - CLASSIFIEDS/BUSINESS -

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.

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