Alternative route for Enbridge pipeline approved by Carlton County

By KBJR News 1

November 12, 2013 Updated Nov 12, 2013 at 6:14 PM CST

Carlton, MN (NNCNOW.com) - The proposed Enbridge oil pipeline from North Dakota to Superior may be taking a different route than originally intended and several landowners are hoping that new route gets approved.

Landowners and farmers, along a proposed pipeline route in Eastern Carlton County, breathed a tentative sigh of relief in response to a potential change in the route.
The Carlton County Board unanimously approved a plan calling for the pipeline to follow an alternative route along an existing utility corridor instead of breaking ground along a new path.

"The land owners had approached me to help them with it and I attended meetings with Enbridge. We worked together well and the end result was something that for the most part, the county could live with." Said Robert Olean, Carlton County Commissioner.

This comes as good news for landowners who would have been affected by the original route, but ultimately it will be the public utilities commission making the final decision on which route is taken.

"The Public Utilities Commission has the ultimate authority where they place any pipeline and so when it comes to that point it's ultimately up to them and that's why they need to hear from all of us." Said Janaki Fisher-Merritt, representative of Carlton County Land Stewards.

Representatives from Enbridge say that they would prefer the route that follows utility lines.

"We'll have to complete an entire assessment of this new alternative route. That means we'll need to do all of the environmental work, all of the construction work and then we'll file supplemental filing. That can't be done until the current route permit and certificate of need is deemed complete." Said Christine Davis, Community Relations Consultant for Enbridge.

Enbridge has filed the application for a route permit and certificate of need with information on the new right of way. They expect a decision by January and would have to submit a supplemental filing for the new route.

Members of the Carlton County Land Stewards will continue to hold letter writing workshops to the Public Utilities Commission to voice their worries about potential damage to forests and wetlands as well as water contamination in the event of a spill if the original planned route is taken.

Bryce Henry
bhenry@kbjr.com