Minnesotans Weigh In On Potential Oil Pipeline Expansion Project
It was a full day of events leading up to a public meeting for the potential expansion of an Enbridge oil pipeline. Protestors and supporters came to the meeting to hear about the findings of an environmental review that could determine if the expansion moves forward.
The issue to allow Enbridge to increase the daily flow of oil through the existing Alberta Clipper pipeline has been a highly contested issue. Various speakers on both side of the issue discussed their views through out the day.
The day started with a press conference for the organization Minnesotans For Jobs. Beltrami County Commissioner Jim Lucachick said that he was in support for the economic benefits through tax revenue and for safety.
Later on at Rail River Folk School, expansion opponents gathered to hear from area groups about alternative energies and what some of the environmental risks are from pipeline leaks.
The groups argue that instead of increasing the production and our dependence on oil, companies like Enbridge and the general public should invest further in green energy.
Despite the weather conditions, many protestors then marched to the Sanford Center carrying signs of their message.
Once through the heavy security at the meeting held by the U-S State Department, the public was able to hear from experts about the different sections of the nearly 750 page environmental review draft.
The information is dense, covering everything from green house gas emissions to cultural concerns to job creation. A state department representative was not able to comment on camera, but said that there was confusion over the project and was hoping to clear up some of those questions.
Some were concerned of the impact on area water sources.
Craig Larson is helping submit 2,000 postcards of support at the meeting. He says the oil industry is critical to many in the area.
However, as noted in the draft document there would be no substantial influx of construction workers.
Enbridge says that should the president permit be issued to green light the expansion, this would help meet energy needs.
While this was the only public meeting, the comments can be submitted online and in the mail through March 27th. More information on the comment submission process and the draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement can be found here.
Once the comments are submitted and the SEIS is revised, the State Department will make a decision on the project- possibly by the end of the year.