A curious ruling in favor of pipeline

  • Article by: STAN SATTINGER
  • Updated: June 13, 2014 - 6:39 PM

Administrative judge dismisses the threat Enbridge project poses in northern Minnesota.

The June 13 article “Pipeline upgrade endorsed” cites state Administrative Law Judge Eric Lipman’s findings on the contested case in which the Sierra Club and MN350 resist the proposed expansion of Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper pipeline.

Lipman’s order conveys the mistaken impression that those who were able to testify at the April 3 hearing on this case in St. Paul “ … represented a good cross-section of the views on the project …” Of the approximately 1,000 people who sought recognition to speak, only 58 were granted the opportunity to do so. The majority of the larger group had intended to speak in opposition to the expansion, reflecting the reluctance of the people of Minnesota to have additional flows of toxic tar sands crude oil traversing their state.

In his report, Lipman acknowledges the intervenors’ and public commentators’ claim that conveying increased tar sands “ … will be catastrophic to the natural environment; perhaps imperiling human civilization.” But he tells us that it won’t be Enbridge’s fault. “Attributing all of the greenhouse gas impacts from the oil that Enbridge transports, to the project, is problematic. … [Enbridge] does not extract or refine the oil that it transports.” My question: Why is a delivery company not responsible for the material it delivers, and not culpable if damage to the public or the environment occurs?

Section 7853 of the Minnesota Administrative Rules requires consideration of how the pipeline would affect the natural and socioeconomic environments. In that connection, Lipman states that the impact “near” the pipeline would be “temporary and modest.” Is the judge telling us that the people of Minnesota would have to be living on the pipeline to be adversely impacted? That their water, their air, their climate and their future will not be compromised if they live elsewhere?

Stan Sattinger lives in Minneapolis.

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