Both sides of Sandpiper pipeline weigh in on Environmental Impact Statement process

By KBJR News 1

August 25, 2014 Updated Aug 25, 2014 at 10:33 PM CDT

Superior, WI (NNCNOW.com) --- The Sandpiper line would carry crude oil from the Bakken Oil Fields of North Dakota, across Minnesota, and to Enbridge's refinery in Superior.

Line 3's replacement project would cross international borders as it brings Canadian Tar Sands crude from Alberta to Superior.

Proponents of the projects say they'd boost the region's economy, while drawing the U.S. away from reliance on imported oil.

"My 200–plus co–workers and I are evidence of long–term jobs created by the pipeline industry in this region," said LHB Consulting Engineer Dan Heldt during Monday's public comment at WITC, "the average employee has been with our firm for approximately 10 years."

"Currently we're dependent on countries in the Middle East that are continually at war," said Jeff Daveau, of the Plumbers and Steamfitters local 11 union. "Any little conflict over there seems to raise the price at the pump, and also creates a shortage."

Daveau, who is also VP of the Superior Building Trades, says many environmental concerns over the pipelines could be quashed by using high–standard U.S. steel.

He claims most past cracks and breaks have been on pipeline seams made with foreign steel.

"The welds haven't been the problem that the guys have been making," said Daveau, "it's that the welds in the seams have been blowing out."

But opponents at the public hearing held at WITC say Enbridge has failed to argue a clear need for the projects.

"Yes, we might need energy independence," said Osage, MN resident and Ecologist Willis Mattson during Monday's hearing, "but we don't need to sell our future birthright to energy that's born and raised here in order to give these companies their profits."

Opponents of the pipelines say each project should warrant its own EIS.

"These pipeline projects are significantly different," said Great Northern Solar CEO Christopher LaForge, "the contents of the pipelines are significantly different."

LaForge says perhaps the biggest concern is the fact that Superior, and five other Wisconsin cities, have seen a recent funding cut in hazmat response plans "at a time when we are potentially seeing a huge increase in the volume of dangerous, hazardous materials shipments."

State Senator Bob Jauch has referred to the hazmat funding cuts in Superior as unacceptable for a city dealing with 17 percent of the nation's crude oil.

People have until September 30th to submit written comments to the Wisconsin DNR.

Billy Wagness