There are four oil pipelines that cross the St. Croix River watershed carrying over a million barrels per day [bpd] of hazardous liquids, including tarsands mined in Alberta, Canada. The lines traverse Wisconsin from Superior, WI to Pontiac, IL. The first line was built in 1960. The newest was opened in 2007 and doubled in capacity six years later.
Plans have been unofficially announced by Enbridge, the operator of the lines, for another pipeline that would carry 1 million bpd. There is mounting pressure to increase capacity of these lines because two pipelines that would have transported Alberta tarsands to market have been stopped. The expansion of the Keystone corridor has been denied by the Obama administration and construction of lines to Canadian ports has recently been denied by the Canadian Supreme Court. That leaves Enbridge’s routes through Minnesota and Wisconsin as the only avenue available to transport tarsands.
Potential Impacts on the St. Croix
A spill could be devastating to the rivers, wetlands, and wildlife in the watershed. Unfortunately, there have been numerous and significant spills in other parts of the country in recent years. Furthermore, tarsands and their related components are more damaging to the environment and more difficult to clean up than traditional crude oil.
The Pipeline Safety Trust keeps up-to-date on locations of pipeline spills across the country. To see where spills have occurred in your state go to the following link: http://pstrust.org/maps/
Wild Rivers Conservancy’s work
At this point Wild Rivers Conservancy does not have a position on expansion of Enbridge’s system through the watershed. However, the potential risks to land, water, and wildlife associated with expansion as well as continued operation of 60-year-old lines is a matter of critical concern.
Therefore, Wild Rivers Conservancy has and will continue to:
- Act as a forum for bringing concerned conservationists together
- Assure that whatever happens regarding Enbridge’s pipelines, the result will be the best possible outcome for the watershed and, at this point, we have no position on expansion
Here are some links to sites that provide further information on Enbridge’s current lines and plans for expansion as well as citizen advocacy to protect the environment.
St. Croix 360
St. Croix 360 has published several articles focused on the hazardous liquid pipelines that cross the St. Croix, Namekagon, Eau Claire and Totagatic rivers.
Oil & Water: Line 61 Pipeline Carries Oil That Could Sink if Spilled in the St. Croix Headwaters
Oil & Water: A New Pipeline Is In The Works Across The St. Croix River’s Headwaters
Oil & Water: Pipeline To Triple Flows Under St. Croix Headwaters
Friends of the Headwaters (friendsoftheheadwaters.org)
Friends of the Headwaters is a local citizen’s group organized for the purpose of protecting our precious resource, like Itasca State Park, the Mississippi River, our clean lakes, streams and aquifers of northwestern and central Minnesota from the potentially devastating impacts that will occur if the Enbridge Sandpiper pipeline is constructed on the currently proposed route in Hubbard, Clearwater, Cass, Aitkin and Carlton Counties.
Honor the Earth (honorearth.org/pipelines)
Honor the Earth is a Native-led organization in 1993. Their mission is to create awareness and support for Native environmental issues and to develop needed financial and political resources for the survival of sustainable Native communities. Their Pipeline campaign is focused on two of Enbridge’s projects: the Alberta Clipper, which runs through the Red Lake, Leech Lake and Fond du Lac reservations, and the proposed Sandpiper/Line 3 corridor that would run through the White Earth reservation, headwaters of the Mississippi, 1855 Treaty Area and some of the largest wild rice beds in the world.
MN350.org works to build the climate movement in Minnesota through creative local, state, and national campaigns, grassroots organizing, and mass mobilizations in order to keep fossil fuels in the ground and accelerate a just transition to renewable energy. It’s Pipeline Resistance campaign is focused on stopping construction of the Alberta Clipper. It’s other campaigns are: Corporate Accountability and Minnesota Divestment.
Wisconsin Safe Energy Alliance (wisconsinsafeenergy.org)
Wisconsin Safe Energy (WiSE) Alliance is a statewide organization dedicated to increasing community awareness of Enbridge Energy’s major pipeline expansion through the heart of Wisconsin. It provides a variety of materials to impacted landowners and citizens and other concerned citizens.
80 Feet Is Enough (80feetisenough.org)
80 Feet Is Enough started in a small neighborhood west of Marshfield, Wisconsin in late 2015 after hearing media accounts of Enbridge’s expansion plans. It is comprised of folks from diverse backgrounds and perspectives and includes Republicans and Democrats, young and retired, environmentalists and non-environmentalists. From the small group of neighbors directly affected by pipeline easements the group has expanded to include Wisconsin citizens concerned about the wider ramifications of Enbridge’s actions.