Sandpiper oil pipeline project needs an environmental review, judge rules

Author:
Updated:
Original:

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

Mohamed Ibrahim

Missed PAT seals Gophers' fate against Maryland

Mohamed Ibrahim tied a school record with four touchdowns, but the Gophers lost in overtime.

dnr trout stocking helicopter

DNR uses a helicopter to more efficiently stock lakes with trout

In the past, the DNR used airplanes to stock remote lakes with fish, but the survival rate of the fish was only 85%.

steve simon zoom call

Secretary of State explains plans for segregated absentee ballots

Election officials are reminding voters that it's too late to mail in your absentee ballots.

Halloween, trick-or-treating

Osterholm on safe trick-or-treating: 'I would say go ahead with it'

The infectious disease expert's opinion doesn't align with the CDC's guidance.

drop and go ballot plymouth

It's too late to mail your ballot, but you can still vote. Here's how.

Voters can drop off their absentee ballot, vote early in-person or head to the polls on Election Day.

2019-12-11 f1rst Wrestling Hanukka Havok-Darin Kamnetz-154

Dusting itself off after virus blow, F1rst Wrestling returns to the ring this Sunday

Minnesota's premier independent wrestling company was on top of the world before the virus hit.

1024px-McD-McRib

McDonald's is bringing the McRib back in December

It hasn't appeared on menus for eight years.

Apple Valley High School

2 more Twin Cities districts moving to distance learning for grades 6-12

The decision was announced as infection rates in Dakota County rise.

covid-19 testing site sign

Here are the 4 free COVID-19 testing sites in MN for the week of Nov. 2

People don't need to have symptoms or insurance to get tested for free.

Related