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D-Day for Trans-State Pipeline Plan

November 25, 2008

St. Paul, MN – The state Public Utilities Commission will hear arguments today in a Canadian company's bid to build two oil pipelines across northern Minnesota. Enbridge Energy wants to transport crude from Hardisty Alberta to Superior Wisconsin for distribution to refineries in eastern Canada and the United States.

Kevin Reuther, legal director for the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, will argue against issuing the company a permit. He says the problem is the type of oil being transported; thick, heavy tar sands oil.

"It’s much more energy-intensive than regular crude oil is. For every gallon of gas you burn that comes from the tar sands oil, the greenhouse gases are higher than from just regular oil."

That’s inconsistent with Minnesota law, which calls for steep reductions in global warming pollution, according to Reuther. He adds, while the company has to prove to the commission the pipeline is needed, that won’t be easy since the project would conflict with the state's goal of reducing petroleum fuel consumption.

"It's a really bad idea to build a new line that's going to deliver a new supply of this dirty oil to Minnesota and to the Midwest at a time when we're trying to reduce our addiction on oil."

The pipeline would carry 800,000 barrels a day across the state from Clearbrook through the Chippewa National Forest and possibly the Fond du Lac reservation. A companion pipeline would transport a refining byproduct back to Alberta for use in heavy crude processing.

Enbridge says the project is environmentally-safe and will help meet energy needs.

The Commission could vote on the permit today, and if approved, the 1,000-mile long pipeline would open in mid-2010.

More on the project and Enbridge at The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy is at The Public Utilities Commission meeting is at 9:30 a.m., 121 Seventh Place E., St. Paul.

Jim Wishner, Public News Service - MN