April 4, 2014
TO: Larry Hartman, Environmental Review Manager, EERA Minnesota Department of Commerce ([email protected])
FROM: Minnesota Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
SUBJ: Enbridge Sandpiper Pipeline Comments-PUC Docket Number (13-474)
Dear State Agency Leaders:
Minnesota Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (BHA)—The Sportsman's Voice for Our Wild Public Lands, Waters and Wildlife—are a grassroots group of sportsmen and women who are united by a passion to protect and conserve the public lands, forests, mountains, prairies, streams, and lakes that support our hunting and angling traditions.
Nationally, BHA has members in all 50 states and seeks to ensure America’s outdoor heritage in a natural setting, through education and work on behalf of clean water and wildlands. Founded in 2004, BHA is a 501c3 non-profit organization that works to conserve big, natural habitat and healthy rivers and streams. We work so our kids and grandkids are able to enjoy the high-quality hunting and fishing we cherish (www.backcountryhunters.org).
We understand that Enbridge Energy is proposing to build a new pipeline through northern Minnesota and the Mississippi Headwaters region, home to some of our state’s cleanest lakes, rivers, and streams. Apparently, Enbridge’s “preferred” route would result in hundreds of miles of new oil pipeline being built through and across a combination of lakes, rivers, streams and other wildlife habitat.
We also understand that an alternative route is available, which would follow existing Enbridge rights-of-way and avoid exposing additional northern Minnesota lands and waters to the risks associated with a new oil pipeline. Examples of these risks are included below:
- Enbridge reported 804 oil leaks between 1999 and 2010. In 2013 alone, there have been over 300 pipeline spills in North Dakota, none of which were reported to the public.
- In Minnesota, nearly 1.5 million gallons of oil have spilled out of Enbridge pipelines over the past 30 years including a 48,000 gallon spill west of Cass Lake, Minnesota.
- Enbridge is still working to clean up 843,000 gallons of tar sand oil they spilled into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River in 2010. In fact, the EPA has to force them back to finish the clean-up. The impact of this spill to the Kalamazoo River, the Talmadge Creek tributary and surrounding wetlands, the largest in U.S. history, will likely never be fully erased.
And there are apparently many other examples of Enbridge oil spills that have been detailed in other public documents. Given that Enbridge has an existing pipeline right-of-way across northern Minnesota, in combination with its problematic oil spill record, Minnesota BHA objects to a new oil pipeline being built across northern Minnesota.
One of the biggest threats to our hunting and angling heritage is unbalanced energy development that has been expedited across the West and Midwest, turning some of the last best public backcountry hunting and angling areas into industrial zones. While domestic and North American energy sources are important, such development needs to occur with conservation planning that seeks to minimize impacts on fish, wildlife, and our outdoor traditions.
Minnesota BHA is in favor of responsible energy development that is balanced with the needs of fish and wildlife, but that doesn’t appear to be the case with Enbridge’s proposed pipeline. Thank you for considering our boots-on-the-ground input regarding the Enbridge pipeline proposal.
David A. Lien
Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
The Sportsman's Voice for Our Wild Public Lands, Waters and Wildlife