Skip to main content

Sandpiper oil pipeline project needs an environmental review, judge rules

  • Author:
  • Updated:

A potential blow to the proposed Sandpiper oil pipeline project came with an appeals court ruling.

In the 11-page ruling from the Minnesota Court of Appeals – which you can read here – Judge Roger Klaphake says Enbridge's pipeline project must have an environmental review done before utility authorities can issue what's called a certificate of need.

(Basically, it's a go-ahead from the Public Utilities Commission that says a given project is one the state needs, and it can continue.)

However, the Public Utilities Commission began going through the certificate of need steps in June, before an environmental review was done – which isn't within the commission's usual practices, the ruling says.

Friends of the Headwaters, a local citizen's group, argued that violated the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act.

The Utilities Commission and North Dakota Pipeline Company countered, saying there'd been an agreement with the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board that an alternative environmental review would be enough to comply with the state's environmental act.

Klaphake sided with Friends of the Headwaters, saying that because the project "has the potential to cause significant environmental effects," and because the decision to grant the project a certificate of need constitutes a "major governmental action," state environmental laws require a review to be done.

The environmental review process usually takes about a year, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission says.

The $2.6 billion pipeline would carry about 225,000 barrels of oil per day, across 610 miles of pipeline from North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields to Superior, Wisconsin.

The exact route was never determined – there have been concerns about potential damage to fragile wetlands, with stringent opposition from environmental groups.

Business groups such as the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce support the Sandpiper for its value as an economic development tool. It’s expected to create some 1,500 construction jobs.

Next Up


Homeowners alert DNR to grouse hunting complaints in Northland

Some hunters are allegedly shooting directly in front of houses.


Charges: Teen couple tortured children while babysitting in St. Paul

A doctor called this "the worst case of abuse he has seen in over 20 years."


New apartment proposal could spell the end for Myth Live

Myth Live in Maplewood has a spotty past with the surrounding community.

Hsa Law Yaw Say

Police trying to find woman, 18, who was shot at in St. Paul

Police are looking for help finding the woman.


Is an Amazon grocery store coming to Woodbury?

There's six rumored stores in the Twin Cities.


Man sentenced to life in prison for 2021 murder of girlfriend

Lacy Jo Krube, 36, was found unresponsive at her St. Paul home, after she'd been beaten in Brooklyn Park.

Richfield High School

New threat prompts closure of Richfield secondary schools

The new threat comes after a shooting outside the Richfield High School football game Friday night.

Screen Shot 2022-09-25 at 6.09.38 PM

Parkland shooting survivor David Hogg to headline Duluth rally

The rally will take place at Leif Erikson Park on Oct. 1.

Screen Shot 2022-09-26 at 6.09.43 AM

Stella's Fish Cafe closes temporarily to investigate viral rodent video

The Uptown restaurant said it was closing temporarily so it could investigate the claims.

Governor Tim Walz

Walz, judge in dispute over Feeding Our Future case

A Ramsey County judge disputed Walz's claims that the Minnesota Department of Education was ordered by the court to resume payments to Feeding Our Future.


2 dead, 1 with life-threatening injuries in Hwy. 7 crash

Both drivers were not wearing their seatbelt, according to the State Patrol.