- Article by: DAVID SHAFFER , Star Tribune
At hearing, Enbridge said alternate southern route would be more expensive to ship N.D. oil to market.
Pipeline operator Enbridge Energy on Tuesday defended its proposal to build a northern Minnesota crude oil pipeline in the face of persistent suggestions by state agencies that another route, farther south, might be better.
Company executives testified during the first day of a trial-like evidentiary hearing before a regulatory judge in St. Paul. Critics of the $2.6 billion project have questioned whether the line needs to be built Up North, an idea that Paul Eberth, Enbridge’s project director, disputed on the witness stand.
He said the project, known as Sandpiper, would allow shippers to carry North Dakota crude oil to a terminal in Clearbrook, Minn., and then on to Enbridge’s storage terminal and other pipelines in Superior, Wis. Rerouting the pipeline without reaching those destinations wouldn’t serve shippers’ needs, he said. “I am not sure the project would proceed,” Eberth said when asked if Enbridge would consider alternate routes proposed by environmental groups and a state agency.
State officials have raised concerns about the risk of a major oil spill like the 2010 rupture of an older Enbridge pipeline in Marshall, Mich. It sent crude oil into the Kalamazoo River and has cost more than $1 billion to clean up. Enbridge has since replaced that line with new pipe.