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Commission decision sparks protest

ST. PAUL -- Environmental activists are calling on Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton to come to their aid once again, asking the governor to reach out to Washington and advocate for more strict adherence to federal oil pipeline regulations.

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Protesters with environmentalist group MN350 march Thursday to Gov. Mark Dayton’s office in St. Paul. FORUM NEWS SERVICE/Robb Jeffries

ST. PAUL - Environmental activists are calling on Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton to come to their aid once again, asking the governor to reach out to Washington and advocate for more strict adherence to federal oil pipeline regulations.
Protesters with environmental group MN350 marched to the governor’s temporary office in the Veterans Service Building in St. Paul from a Public Utilities Commission meeting Thursday after the commission denied a request to reconsider a certificate of need permit for Canada-based Enbridge’s operations in northern Minnesota.
After the commission unanimously voted against revisiting its late August decision to allow expansion of Enbridge Line 67 - also known as the Alberta Clipper pipeline - members of the crowd rose to their feet and took turns reading from a document condemning the decision.
“In this, the season of light, this decision is darkness. … This decision opens the door ever wider for the dirtiest oil on the planet to be forced out of the ground,” the statement read.
Andy Pearson of MN350 called the decision “disappointing,” but said the issue is long from resolved.
“It shows the PUC accepted a process that is flawed, and they accepted a process without significant public comment and input,” he said. “But, the PUC is not the only place where this conversation will happen.”
The Line 67 project consists of building four new pump stations near existing Enbridge facilities, along with upgrading three pump stations in Viking, Clearbrook and Deer River, Minn. In all, the project will expand the pipeline’s capability to transport crude oil from Alberta to Superior, Wis., from an average of 450,000 barrels per day to 800,000 barrels per day.
‘Illegal scheme’
About 40 protesters marched three-quarters of a mile from the commission hearing to Dayton’s office to ask the governor to speak out against a system that circumvents federal regulations on pipelines that cross the U.S. border.
The system, known as a diversion, moves tar sands oil from the Alberta Clipper pipeline to the aging Enbridge Line 3 as the lines cross the border near Gretna, Manitoba, then back into the Alberta Clipper pipeline southeast of Neche, N.D. According to Pearson, Line 3 predates the presidential permitting process that applies to newer pipelines, and Enbridge uses the diversion to avoid a similarly drawn-out process that the Keystone XL pipeline has faced.
“We are asking for Gov. Dayton to stand up for due process,” Pearson said. “He has been a strong environmental advocate.”
The governor’s office confirmed a staff member met with Pearson and other representatives of MN350 on Thursday. Dayton was unavailable for comment.

Robb Jeffries (he/him) is the Night Editor for InForum.com and The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. Robb can be reached at rjeffries@forumcomm.com.
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