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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Dale Lueck (R)

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Enbridge withdraws Sandpiper permit applications

Friday, September 02, 2016


ST. PAUL – Enbridge, Inc. has officially withdrawn the Sandpiper Pipeline Project permit applications that were before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. 

After three years of delays in gaining the necessary permits from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, the company has ended its attempt to invest more than $1 billion in permanent infrastructure in Minnesota.

“It is disheartening to see the loss of $25 million in new annual local property tax revenue that would have been generated by this project,” said Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin. “Between $3 and $4 million per year of new property tax revenue would have flowed into Aitkin County. That would have directly assisted the county, our local school districts, as well as the townships along the proposed pipeline route.”

Lueck said the Sandpiper project would have provided economic opportunities for communities and businesses across North Central Minnesota. He indicated the $2.6 billion in infrastructure investment and would have fostered 3,000-plus, good-paying skilled jobs throughout the construction industry, transporting domestically produced crude oil from North Dakota through Minnesota onto Midwestern refineries in southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. 

In addition to the significant local economic benefits generated, moving crude oil by pipeline is a much safer method of transportation when compared to shipping oil by rail or truck, Lueck said.

“We will always have to move some crude oil by rail and truck,” Lueck said. “However, transporting crude oil over many thousands of miles to Midwest refineries by pipeline remains by far the safest and most efficient method of transportation.

“A dysfunctional state permitting system has resulted in the Sandpiper project’s demise,” Lueck said. “While some may be celebrating this as a victory for the environment, if the same approach is taken on replacing aging Line 3 it’s hard to see how that would be protecting our environment.

“Both the U.S. Department of Justice and Enbridge have deemed it a necessary to replace aging Line 3. Intentionally delaying that project would appear to be an overt attempt to unnecessarily put our environment at risk.”

Enbridge recently announced a $2 billion investment to acquire a portion of the Dakota Access pipeline, which is expected to be in service by the end of this year. Lueck said, had Minnesota’s cumbersome permitting process not severely delayed the start of the Sand Piper project, that pipeline would have already been in operation today.

Enbridge officials have indicated they will now shift their focus to replacing Line 3, an already operating oil pipeline that traverses northeast Minnesota carrying crude oil to Midwestern refineries in Wisconsin and Illinois.

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