Here’s a fun fact: About 14 percent of America’s domestic oil supply flows through pipelines in Minnesota, mostly to Superior, Wisconsin.
But even as pipelines are seen as a safer alternative to rail, which has been much in the headlines lately due to a number of explosive and even deadly derailments, opposition to pipelines in Minnesota is growing.
This is a big deal for North Dakota. The Sandpiper Pipeline, which would have the capacity to take about 25 percent of North Dakota’s production off the roads and rails, could become the next Keystone Pipeline in terms of endless political opposition and delay.
For years, pipeline companies like Enbridge Energy, based in Calgary, Alberta, have faced not-on-my-property opposition over new pipelines carrying Canadian and U.S. oil. Now, residents like Rogers and a new citizen group are asking: Should the Mississippi River headwaters be a major conduit for crude oil?
Enbridge is proposing to build the 610-mile, $2.6 billion Sandpiper pipeline across North Dakota and Minnesota to transport oil from the Bakken region to Superior. Part of the route passes Itasca State Park on a corridor that already has four crude oil pipelines owned by another company.
“This one has caught everyone’s attention,” said Willis Mattison, a former regional administrator for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency who is advising a newly formed group called Friends of the Headwaters, which has challenged the project.
Two month after it formed, the Park Rapids-based group says hundreds of people have expressed support. In a sign of the anti-pipeline sentiment, a crowd of 130 people at a public meeting in Park Rapids Wednesday applauded everyone who spoke against the project. The lone supporter, a local bus driver, made his remarks to polite silence.
One almost gets the idea that environmental activists, having decided they can’t stop oil production, will instead attempt to stop its safe transportation.
Let’s put it this way: At this point those opposing pipelines are pretty much pro-train derailment. Not to mention pro-importing oil from places with some pretty ugly politics.
Like it or not, America runs on oil. Switching to alternatives isn’t technologically, or economically, feasible. At least, not without creating a huge amount of hardship, and a lower quality of life, for Americans.
But don’t tell that to environmental extremists who seem to think that they can roadblock desperately needed energy infrastructure with few consequences.