It became abundantly clear this week when the Minnesota Court of Appeals handed down a decision to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to reverse the PUC’s 5-0 decision to grant the Certificate of Need to build the Sandpiper Pipeline that at this point in Minnesota, there is no clear permitting process for companies that are looking to complete major construction projects in our state.
Here’s a little history. The MPUC made a decision to bifurcate their own process, separating the certificate of need and route permitting process and changing when the environmental review process would be completed. Never before has this been done. Project opponents urged and applauded this change in the process. And then these same groups filed a lawsuit against the MPUC. The Court of Appeals deemed the MPUC process unlawful.
Enbridge has complied with requirements from multiple state agencies and is currently in the routing process and has an environmental assessment that is set to be completed in March. The date that the MPUC required. It is obvious to taxpayers, other businesses, those in the agriculture industry and simply general citizens that as it stands today, the State does not set a clear process that is to be followed.
There is no question, the Sandpiper project would bring nearly $25 Million dollars in tax revenue to the State of Minnesota, it will create thousands of high paying jobs and an economic boost to many small cities and towns in northern Minnesota. The overall response from the general public from hours of public testimony and hundreds of submissions is that the people of Minnesota want this project to move forward. Additionally, it is a known fact that moving oil via pipeline is significantly safer than moving it by rail.
We have been advocating to keep the process moving forward without delay and today we urge the State to follow the Court’s order in a way in which will not alter the final decision date in which the company has been working towards and citizens are expecting.