Enbridge files plan for pipeline across northern Minnesota

Published 10:01 am Monday, November 11, 2013

ST. PAUL — Enbridge Energy has filed detailed plans with Minnesota regulators for a proposed $2.6 billion pipeline to carry crude oil from North Dakota across northern Minnesota to Wisconsin.

The Sandpiper pipeline would extend 299 miles from the Bakken oilfields to an Enbridge terminal in Superior, Wis. The Minnesota portion would cost $1.2 billion and create 1,500 temporary pipeline jobs.

Enbridge’s filing with the Public Utilities Commission on Friday outlines a tight construction schedule starting in the fourth quarter of 2014 and ending in early 2016.

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The company’s preferred route follows an existing pipeline to Clearbook in northern Minnesota, then cuts south, avoiding Bemidji and Grand Rapids. It skirts Park Rapids before turning east and running through Carlton County on its way to Superior. About three-fourths of the Clearbrook-to-Superior segment follows existing rail and transmission lines, Enbridge said.

The commission must approve the project. The process will include public meetings, hearings and opportunities to submit written comments.

Park Rapids Mayor Pat Mikesh told the newspaper he’s pleased the line won’t run through his city.

But he added: “It might bring a bit of a job opportunity for people. The pipeline workers will be looking for lodging, and it will bring in a little bit more money into the area for a while.”

The route also avoids national forests and tribal lands, which would require additional approvals. But the pipeline still would cross eight state forests, three state wildlife management areas, the North Country Trail and 13 trout streams. About 45 miles of wetlands also lie along the southern route, according to an environmental filing.

Several endangered or threatened plants and animals are believed to live in the vicinity of the proposed Sandpiper line, including the Henslow’s sparrow, Blanding’s turtle and the Dakota skipper butterfly, according to the environmental report. Enbridge also filed a lengthy plan to address environmental issues.