ST. PAUL – Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, co-signed a letter to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, urging support of the Sandpiper Pipeline Project as the commission weighs a key decision impacting the proposal's fate.
The letter Lueck and four other House members penned comes as the PUC prepares to announce whether it will grant a certificate of need, something state law requires in order for the pipeline project to proceed. The board could announce a determination as soon as Wednesday when it meets in St. Paul. Lueck and the other letter-writers highlight safety as the key reason they support construction of the Sandpiper.
The letter Lueck and fellow legislators sent to the PUC reads, in part:
"For the past several years, the oil boom in North Dakota has resulted in significant increases in rail traffic, and subsequently concerns about rail safety. The Sandpiper Pipeline will help alleviate rail traffic, providing the safest possible transport of light crude oil from North Dakota. The pipeline would transport about 1,700 rail cars worth of oil each day, freeing up crucial rail capacity for crops and other products to travel more freely and quickly on Minnesota rail lines."
Administrative Law Judge Eric Lipman recently reviewed the Sandpiper proposal. He recommends the PUC provide a certificate of need so pipeline construction may commence from Tioga, N.D., to Superior, Wis., running through Clearbrook, Minn., along the way.
"The judge has carefully reviewed this proposal after receiving months of public input," Lueck said. "He conducted due diligence and it would be a shame for the PUC to ignore that process.
"The PUC's continued delays in the permitting process unnecessarily put citizens at risk by forcing oil onto less-efficient means of transportation. The PUC now can either get this project going now to increase safety and reduce traffic on our rails and highways, or keep stalling with regulatory delays. We should be transporting goods in the safest, most-efficient means and I ask the PUC to grant the certificate of need so we can proceed in building this pipeline."
The other four House members who signed the letter include Reps. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau; Steve Green, R-Fosston; Dave Hancock, R-Bemidji; and Deb Kiel, R-Crookston.