Friends of the Headwaters Organization and Mission
Friends of the Headwaters, which is made up of a Board of Directors, Steering Committees, technical advisors and several other committed, talented individuals held their first meeting on January 13, 2014.
This group, which has attracted over 4000 supporters and is continuing to grow statewide, is committed to educating the public about the risks associated with the construction, use and maintenance of the previously
proposed Sandpiper and currently proposed Line 3 pipelines. Enbridge’s record of spills, the highly flammable and toxic nature of Bakken crude (Sandpiper), the potential for transporting tar sands oil (Line3), and the resource features of the proposed corridor for these pipelines – through this area’s shallow aquifers, under several rivers and near several lakes – are just some of our concerns. From the beginning, we have advocated for the following:
• A longer comment period to provide citizens who are seasonal residents with a chance to study the route and respond to the issues.
• A full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), to assess worst case scenarios and analyze risk to human and natural resources.
• Removal of this pipeline route from Hubbard County and Minnesota lake country. (We have provided the MN PUC with a detailed rationale for alternative routes, which avoid the Mississippi Headwaters and the lake country of this area.)
• More rigorous federal and state routing criteria, regulations, and inspections for all pipelines.
• A process that removes pipeline approval from the MN Dept of Commerce and restores it to Minnesota’s Environmental Quality Board, Pollution Control Agency and the Dept of Natural Resources.
Friends of the Headwaters is represented by the legal team at the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy (MCEA). Arguably the most respected environmental stewardship organization in Minnesota, MCEA is staffed with knowledgeable and passionate people fighting for environmental best practices across Minnesota.
Some facts about the North Dakota Pipeline Company/Enbridge Pipelines proposed for Minnesota...
This route jeopardizes Minnesota's natural resources. Placing the proposed Sandpiper pipeline route on maps of Minnesota provided by state agencies (see maps on this page) you can see that:
- 32 million gallons of oil will cross under the Mississippi River the same day
Pipelines actually spill more oil than rail and truck combined, by nearly a 10 to 1 ratio (The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, June 2013). While both railroads and pipeline companies profess their adherence to safety standards, these standards in both cases are set way too low to provide adequate protection of our communities and our environment.
How can this pipeline impact YOU as a landowner or lakeshore owner?
• If the pipeline is deemed by the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to be for “public good” your land (or a portion thereof) can be taken from you through a process called “eminent domain”. You are then forced to accept a settlement – one deemed “fair” by Enbridge's lawyers (they have many).
• Although Enbridge claims they are responsible for the cleanup of their spills, they could hold you liable if they could prove you were negligent under your agreement? This could be as simple as your driving heavy equipment over their pipeline.
• If the pipeline is laid on your land, you need to adequately protect yourself by considering legal counsel to assure that you are adequately compensated for the easement as well as agreeing to a fair compensation if a spill occurs on your land. Talk to neighbors, township, city and county officials. Do not be intimidated or rushed into signing anything.
How will this impact your community? Consider these facts.
Property owners should expect an immediate 10-40% reduction in property values after an oil spill (Conversations for a Responsible Economic Development, 2013). Given this area's, sandy soils and shallow aquifers, local groundwater would be highly susceptible to contamination. If local groundwater is contaminated, the economic costs to our community's residents, businesses and agriculture would be considerable. And probably permanent.
The MN Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) says the Enbridge routes crosses more open water than the alternative routes submitted by Friends of the Headwaters. The MPCA commentary on North Dakota Pipeline Company/ Enbridge application for this route states.... "As explained above, MPCA examination of the proposed route and the previously used Northern route (Alberta Clipper) shows that significantly more open water bodies are crossed by the pipelines in these corridors than alternative routes. Far more of these crossings have no available access within a 2,000 foot buffer, meaning that release incidents are more likely to impact surface waters within that 2,000 buffer. Both the proposed route and Alberta Clipper route are corridors for numerous crude oil pipelines; consequently, these routes are more vulnerable and less able to properly mitigate damage to aquatic environments. Whereas oil does travel through soils and overland, it travels significantly farther in aquatic environments.”
In his testimony regarding his Sandpiper Pipeline route concerns, Bob Merritt, a professional geologist and retired MN DNR area hydrologist with 32 years experience, explains the primary interconnected aquifers in the Straight River basin, which includes the surrounding Park Rapids area. Bob Merritt used maps and water flow paths to show the groundwater movement towards the Straight River, Park Rapids city wells, the potato plant, area irrigation wells and other wells. A spill or leakage has significant potential to incorporate petroleum products into the aquifer. Irrigation of the contaminated water will result in agricultural field contamination. And once petroleum attaches to the sand and gravel grains, it is virtually impossible to remove the product. Each time rain, snowmelt or irrigation infiltrates through the aquifer, petroleum will be mobilized, causing ongoing contamination.
"Friends of the Headwaters believes Enbridge's proposed Sandpiper and Line 3 pipelines in the Mississippi Headwaters and Minnesota lake country are an end run around Keystone XL,” said Richard Smith, president of Friends of the Headwaters. “All environmental experts (except those working directly for or contracted by Enbridge), including those experts in the MN Department of Natural Resources and Pollution Control Agency, have concluded that the environmental studies that have been so far conducted by the MN PUC, DOC and Enbridge are deeply flawed because they are shallow, are not an impact assessment, and don't even address the main issues such as the consequence of oil spills. All of the above-listed experts—excluding those with Enbridge and its consultants—found serious flaws, major omissions, and indifference to the environment in the ALJ report on the Sandpiper project Certificate of Need process. Even the PUC failed to adopt portions indicating possible serious bias."
What can you do?
Please help us. See the "Take Action" tab for ways you can help and be heard. Also please consider a donation to our organization using the Donate tab above.
If you still think pipelines are safe,
July 2002: Enbridge 34-inch diameter steel pipeline ruptured in a marsh west of Cohasset, Minnesota. To prevent 6,000 barrels (252,000 gallons) of crude oil from reaching the Mississippi River, the company set the oil on fire. The plume of smoke extended one mile high. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board blamed the rupture on “inadequate loading of the pipe for transportation.”
Michigan's Kalamazoo River cleanup - site of 2010 massive Enbridge pipeline oil spill. Imagine this on the Fishhook river! Read more about the biggest pipeline oil spill in US history. And what people are saying 4 years later - click here.
The following maps show the proposed Sandpiper pipeline route crossing our vulnerable lakes, rivers, wild rice and aquifers between Clearbrook and Superior Minnesota.
Please click on any of the images below for full view.