Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Dan Reed
Moose Lake Star Gazette 

Pipeline postponed, prep continues


Word has come that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will study the viability of some other proposed routes for the Enbridge pipeline from the Dakotas to the Superior, Wisconsin, terminal. One proposed route adds over 80 miles to the pipeline corridor. The result is that Enbridge is having to postpone for a year the start of construction of the Sandpiper oil line. Construction cannot begin until the proper permits are given by state agencies.

Work continues on Enbridge's proposed route. Local construction workers have said that 97 percent of the owners of land within the affected right of way have come to an agreement with Enbridge. Small teams continue work in the area. Ground testing for another pipe yard had a large team digging holes on a field in the south half of the southweest 1/4 of the southwest 1/4 of Section 19 in Kalevala Township at the junction of County Road 6 (Automba Road) and Koivisto Road. In an interview with the leader of that team, he confirmed an additional pipe yard is needed besides the pipe yard on the Lee Miller farm two miles to the east. His team was checking for archaeological and cultural significance in the affected area, but found nothing of concern.

One resident of western Carlton County, who wanted to withhold his name because of strong feelings in his neighborhood pro and con for the pipeline construction, finds all the work and preparation for the pipeline quite unbelievable. "This will be a big change for us," he remarked. "I wonder though about some who push for a route in other parts of the region. Many of which are a lot longer. Is the land farther south any more or less important than the land we have here? The shortest route possible with the least land impacted seems like the reasonable thing to do."

The Carlton County Board of Commissioners has come strongly in support of the Enbridge route through the area — 47 miles of pipeline will be built with the Enbridge preferred route as it crosses the full length of the county.

In other area news the Arrowhead Counties Association, comprising the counties of northeast Minnesota, has asked for a reasonable extension of the comment period for the designation of the Fond du Lac reservation lands to a Class 1 Air Quality by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Concern has been expressed that area town boards meet only once a month and are only now seeing how tight the timeline is for public comment.

"This will have a big impact on development in our region," commented one Duluth energy engineer who attended the public hearings at the Black Bear Casino on October 2. "Not only is Cloquet or the proposed pipeline construction impacted, but I believe mining, power plants, etc. in northern Minnesota will all be affected. Current regulations are hard enough to comply with — this is very unsettling for any development planning."

No one testified at the hearing. Several written comments have been filed according to tribal sources.

The Fond du Lac band stated at the hearing it wished to use the Clean Air Act to take care of the environment of the area, which "supports Minnesota's culture and values." During the tribal presentation, a Prevention of Significant Deterioration Program will be initiated after the Class 1 Air Quality designation is given by the EPA. The tribal hearing officer commented, "We can then focus on areas in Minnesota that are still clean and keep them that way."


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