We’re writing to give you an update on our progress with the Sandpiper pipeline and let you know that it’s time to raise a ruckus! Enbridge recently submitted the long-awaited amended route which now follows their existing pipelines for 5 miles in the eastern part of Carlton County. We see this as a significant improvement in the route for our immediate area. It is important for the Public Utilities Commission to hear that this is an improvement, and for them to hear any other comments or concerns you may have regarding the route proposal. Remember, they are the ultimate decision-makers.
The public comment period is OPEN for both the Certificate of Need and the Routing Permit, and you have the opportunity to attend a public meeting to address concerns about the project with the Public Utilities Commission. This meeting will be held on:
Thursday, March 13th, 6-9pm
Carlton County Transportation Building,
1630 County Road 61. Carlton, MN 55718 (30 minutes from downtown Duluth)
Even if you don’t feel comfortable speaking, you may submit written testimony and show your support for land stewardship by attending this meeting. If you cannot attend a public meeting you may send written testimony to:
Dr. Burl Haar, Executive Secretary
Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
121 7th Place East, Suite 350
Saint Paul, MN 55101-2147
Include the docket number on any submissions to expedite processing:
Routing Permit is #13-474, Certificate of Need is #13-473. You may comment on both if you wish.
Written comments from the public concerning this pipeline must be received at the Office of Administrative Hearings by April 4, 2014 and the hearing record will close on that date.
Tips on Public Testimony
1) Put your testimony in writing and bring a copy to give to the hearing judge and the court reporter.
2) Summarize your testimony and speak no more than 3 to 5 minutes.
3) Explain who you are and your experience with land stewardship and organic farming in Carlton County.
4) To the extent that you feel comfortable, speak about these key ideas:
- Northern Minnesota can’t afford to lose scarce farmland to pipeline construction.
- Organic farms are vulnerable to loss of certification, soil destruction and ecosystem damage. Whenever possible, routes should avoid organic farms.
- Wild, natural, and forested areas not only provide essential ecosystem services to support sustainable farming, they are also valuable natural resources in themselves that provide critical wildlife habitat and protect the health of impaired rivers such as the Nemadji River in the Lake Superior Watershed.
- This isn’t just about money. This is about preserving sustainable agriculture and the health of the ecosystems surrounding Lake Superior.
- Co-locating new pipelines with existing crude oil pipelines is most consistent with the principle of non-proliferation and minimizes damage to farms, the environment and landowner rights.
As you probably know, the Sandpiper would be a new pipeline carrying crude oil from the frack fields of western North Dakota to the Enbridge terminal in Superior. The section of the pipeline running through this area will be 30” in diameter and will initially pump 375,000 barrels per day at a pressure of 1480 psi. Typical household water pressure is 40-60 psi. The ultimate design capacity is 711,000 barrels of crude oil each day if the operating pressure is increased, as it has been on other existing pipelines. That’s enough oil to fill the tank of a typical car almost 2 million times. Each day. Most of the Minnesota portion will require a new permanent right of way of 50’ (wider than four lanes of traffic) and a total workspace width of 120’, though these spaces are reduced somewhat when the route crosses wetlands or follows existing pipelines. In all, this new pipeline will cross more than 600 miles of land.
We are asking the public to comment on the Routing Permit proposal, but the public comment period for the Certificate of Need portion of their application is also open. Please see the information below about how the overall PUC process works and what factors are considered by the commission. One document is technical information from the PUC announcing the meeting. The other was prepared by MN350, one of the many groups who have supported our efforts to protect the land.
The Carlton County Land Stewards is a diverse group with limited resources and as such has focused primarily on the immediate concerns of our participating landowners. This diversity has contributed to the strength of our arguments because individually we are trying to protect not only farms, but woodlands, wetlands, hunting land, and our rights as landowners. All of us, tree-hugger and logger, environmentalist and gas guzzler, invite you to examine broader issues such as domestic energy and climate change that this proposal brings up and include those in your comments.
Thank you for all of your support, and get to work on those letters!
P.S. The best testimony begins with something about the issue that’s important to you personally and then connects with a specific issue the PUC can make a decision about. Remember, your voice includes each member of the household—get your children and spouse involved, and forward this email and a copy of your letter to anyone who you think would be willing to participate.