Wrenshall, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Canadian based Enbridge Energy is planning to file an application to build an oil pipeline from Manitoba, Northern Minnesota to Superior.
The proposed new line has some area farmers preparing for a battle.
The pipeline that carries oil from the North Dakota Bakken fields to the terminal in Superior is struggling to keep up with demand. A planned new 610-mile line called the "Sandpiper" would carry more than 200,000 barrels per day, easing the burden. Enbridge officials say the new line is crucial but a group of farmers and landowners, in the area through which the pipeline would run, are concerned that their land could be compromised.
"The big risk here is not just to our farming operation, but to the growth of local farming in general and to the respect for private property rights. Enbridge already has a corridor that they have six pipes in the ground right now and they could follow that or they could put a whole new route through and disturb a whole new group of land owners." Said Owner of Food Farm in Wrenshall, Janaki Fisher-Merritt.
Enbridge officials say the route they've selected for the new pipeline would make construction and on-going maintenance on the line easier.
"It has fewer construction related challenges. One, for example, winter construction, would be something we have to do over two different seasons on the Northern route and on this route we can complete it all in one season." Said Enbridge Energy Sr. Manager, Lorraine LIttle.
The route for the new line would cut through a cluster of organic farms. Farmers like Janaki Fisher-Merritt are concerned the construction would disturb huge amounts of rich soil which is important for organic farmers who don't rely on synthetic fertilizers.
"Being certified organic is a process and for us it's a systems approach, where we use crop rotation and other strategies to substitute Management for chemical inputs and so the land that the pipeline is going through is an important part of our crop rotation system." Said Fisher-Merritt.
"We try to work as collaboratively as possible to make sure that all of the construction techniques that are utilized at the end of the day, farmers are concerned with their certification and that's what we want as well." Said Little.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will spend the year weighing landowner concerns against the need for the Sandpiper line. It's one of three proposed new pipelines from North Dakota that could cut across Minnesota in coming years.
If approved, landowners would not be able to say no to the pipeline running through their property because of eminent domain.
Enbridge has said, however, they would negotiate fair compensation with each landowner.