Duluth, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has approved moving forward with both the original, and alternative, routes for the proposed Sandpiper oil pipeline Thursday.
After hours of testimony from various interests, the PUC also decided to move forward on 53 changes to the original route proposed by Calgary-based Enbridge Energy.
The original route would take crude oil from North Dakota to terminals in Clearbrook and Superior by crossing the Red River, the Mississippi headwaters, and wild rice areas.
The alternative route would avoid more environmental areas of concern by following the I–29/94 corridor to the Twin Cities Metro area, before cutting up through Wisconsin into Superior.
With up to 800,000 barrels of crude being shipped daily via train from the Bakken Oil Fields, Governor Mark Dayton says the need for more shipping capacity is greater than ever, but cites environmental and safety concerns in either scenario.
"So, we have to take some of the pressure off of the rail with the pipelines, but we need to make sure that we're doing it safely," said Gov. Dayton Friday.
Enbridge spokespeople say the alternate route would be more costly, and could delay the project by three years.
The review of the alternative route will take months, with the final choice being made sometime next year.
To hear more from Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton watch Northland Voices with Barbara Reyelts this Sunday.