State order means delays for oil pipelines

Piles of pipes along Hwy. 200
Fifty miles of pipe for the Sandpiper project is stacked in a hay field on Highway 200 east of Lake George, Minn., on Nov. 6, 2014.
John Enger | MPR News 2014

Two proposed oil pipelines through northern Minnesota have been delayed by two years.

Enbridge Energy has proposed building the Sandpiper line from North Dakota through northern Minnesota to its facility in Superior, Wis. The Canadian company also wants to replace an aging line from the Alberta oil sands region.

Last month the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission said the company can't proceed with permitting until an environmental analysis is completed. Enbridge has challenged that order.

"We've always agreed with undertaking a thorough environmental analysis of these projects," said Lorraine Little of Enbridge. "It's just a matter of what's the fair way to do that."

If the order stands the pipelines wouldn't be completed until 2019, Little said.

Several environmental groups and Indian tribes oppose the proposed pipeline routes. They say they threaten pristine waterways in northern Minnesota. But they're supported by many local governments and unions.

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