DNR seeks public input on Enbridge pipeline project environmental issues
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is seeking public input at an August meeting to help determine the scope of an environmental impact statement for the Enbridge Sandpiper Pipeline construction and replacement project in northwestern Douglas County.
The proposed project would involve construction of a new 30-inch diameter crude oil pipeline, which would be the Wisconsin portion of the larger Sandpiper pipeline project from the Bakken Shale region in North Dakota through Minnesota to Superior. The proposed project also would include replacement of an existing 34-inch diameter pipeline, known as Line 3. Both pipelines would cross about 14 miles of land in the town of Superior, village of Superior and city of Superior and terminate at the Enbridge Superior Terminal.
Environmental impact statements inform decision-makers and the public about the anticipated effects of a project as well as alternatives to the proposed project. The statement for the proposed Enbridge project will look at direct local effects, as well as broader impacts at regional, statewide and larger scales. The environmental impact statement will not include the actual permit decisions for the proposed project.
“The department recognizes the overwhelming public interest in Enbridge operations and wants to ensure transparency in the evaluation of the proposed Sandpiper pipeline through an environmental impact statement,” said Ben Callan, water regulations and zoning specialist with the DNR. “By inviting stakeholders to engage in the scope development of the environmental impact statement, DNR intends to provide a forum for discussion of issues related to the environment as well as our nation’s energy independence, regional refining capacity and transportation logistics.”
Dave Siebert, director of DNR’s bureau of environmental analysis and sustainability, said DNR looks forward to the early citizen involvement in the environmental impact statement process and intends to use the August meeting to help define issues that should be addressed.
“The scoping process represents an important opportunity for citizens to provide constructive input on subjects ranging from specific ecological concerns to the potential for economic benefit from this project,” Siebert said. “Ultimately, information we receive from the public and apply to the scope of the environmental impact statement will ensure that environmental and economic topics of public concern are reviewed.”
Earlier this year, the department approved permits for construction activities related to a separate Enbridge project to expand pumping capacity on an existing pipeline. Due to the nature of the applications, the limited scope of department authority over that project and past environmental review of the pipeline in question, an environmental impact analysis was not necessary for that project.
The public scoping meeting runs 3:30-8 p.m. Aug. 25 at the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Superior Campus Conference Room, 600 N. 21st St., Superior.
The meeting begins with DNR staff presenting a brief overview of the environmental impact statement process. Any interested individuals at the meeting will then have the opportunity to identify topics to be addressed in the statement. Department staff will be on hand to receive either written or oral comments.
The department will use the information from the scoping process and information provided in the applicant’s environmental impact report to prepare a draft impact statement. The public will be notified when the draft is available for public comments.
The DNR will then hold a formal public hearing during the draft environmental impact statement comment period and consider all comments in the development of the final statement. No permit decisions will be made until the environmental impact statement process is complete.
The agency’s draft outline for the environmental impact statement and other information can be found at http://DNR.wi.gov and searching for “Enbridge Sandpiper.”
Individuals can submit comments about the scope of the environmental impact statement through Sept. 30. Suggestions on topics to be included can be mailed to Jeff Schimpff, WDNR, Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921, or email DNROEEAAComments@wisconsin.gov.
The public can also sign up to receive email or mobile alerts for updates to the Enbridge Sandpiper environmental impact statement.