Pipe Dreams: Perspectives on Five North American Pipeline Projects

What is the Sandpiper Pipeline Project?

The Sandpiper Pipeline Project was first proposed in 2013 (Enbridge, "Sandpiper Pipeline Project"). The original proposed route ran 616 miles long, stretching from Tioga, ND to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, WI (Enbridge, "Sandpiper Pipeline Project"). From Tioga to Clearbrook Minnesota, the pipeline would be 24 inches wide in diameter, and then expanded to a 30 inch diameter from Clearbrook to Superior where it would have its max capacity at 375,000 barrels per day (Enbridge, “Growth Projects”). At first, the pipeline was readily accepted and approved by the North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Minnesota governments. However, the outcry of environmental groups, Native American tribes, and concerned citizens who did not approve of the pipeline, led the government to reconsider and further investigate the pipeline and its effects on the land and the people around it.

In North Dakota, the Sandpiper would only add to existing pipelines routes. That, and its conservative and pro-oil policies led to no resistance from North Dakota. Wisconsin was not a source of opposition either, as their government is fairly conservative as well, combined with the fact that the pipeline barely crossed into the state. The main source of this outcry came from groups in Minnesota. As shown in a report from the Minnesota Pubic Utilities Commission (PUC), in Minnesota, the proposed route--as well as all of the alternative routes--would pass through many water sources, wetlands, public lands, and run near Native American reservations (Minnesota). This outcry generated these groups to protest the line and call for a reevaluation. This protest was voiced perhaps most strongly by Native groups who claimed they were not consulted by the state government before approval to build the pipeline was given. As a result of these protests, the pipeline was delayed and its effects on the environment further examined (Vizenor; Sawyer). Subsequently, Sandpiper pipeline construction was postponed, and eventually cancelled on September 1st, 2016, when Enbridge withdrew its application for development (Enbridge, "Sandpiper Pipeline").

Works Cited

‚ÄčEnbridge. “Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P. Announces Anticipated Joint Funding Arrangement Terms for Bakken Pipeline System Investment and Long-Term Deferral of Sandpiper Project.” Enbridge Energy Partners, 1 Sept. 2016. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Enbridge. “Growth Projects” Enbridge Energy Partners. Enbridge, 2016. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Enbridge Pipelines (North Dakota) LLC. Pipeline Routing Permit Application. Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, Docket No. PL-6668/PPL-13-474, Section 7852.2300. Nov. 2013 Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Enbridge. “Sandpiper Pipeline Project.” Enbridge. Enbridge Inc., 2016. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.


Minnesota. Dept. of Commerce. Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Sandpiper Pipeline: Comparison of Environmental Effects of Reasonable Alternatives. Dec. 2014. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Sawyer, Liz. "Minnesota Pipeline Protest Draws Large Crowds to St. Paul for March." TCA Regional News 6 Jun. 2015. ProQuest. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

Vizenor, Erma J. Letter to Beverly Jones Heydinger. 1 June 2015. Minnesota Public Utility Commission. Web. 28 Nov. 2016.

‚ÄčImage Header: 

Robin Drayton [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons


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