Fond du Lac, Enbridge end stalemate on pipelineThe Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe and Enbridge Energy Partners have reached an agreement that clears the way for a new oil pipeline to cross reservation land.
By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune, Pine Journal
The Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe and Enbridge Energy Partners have reached an agreement that clears the way for a new oil pipeline to cross reservation land.
The deal will see Enbridge pay the band for the rights to cross the reservation. The exact amount was not disclosed.
The agreement follows a stalemate between the two parties after the state Public Utilities Commission’s approval last year of the pipeline route from Clearbook in Northwestern Minnesota to Superior.
The Houston-based pipeline company had asked the PUC for a 21-mile detour around the reservation to avoid the roughly 11-mile crossing.
Earlier this year, Enbridge told the PUC that Fond du Lac’s request was “25 times fair market value’’ and that the two sides had reached impasse. But last month the PUC denied Enbridge the detour route, essentially forcing the company back to negotiate with the band.
Karen Diver, chairwoman of the Fond du Lac tribal council, said the deal was a good one.
“Apparently, the valuation of the land was closer to our appraisal than the company thought,’’ she said. “There’s already a pipeline there and, while some people on the reservation would rather not have it here, this is the best alternative for our members.’’
Denise Hamsher, spokeswoman for Enbridge, said the agreement means the final pipeline route across the reservation will likely be approved at the PUC’s next meeting. The company hopes for federal environmental reviews and permits in coming months, although the pipeline was challenged in court Monday.
“We hope to begin construction in June,’’ Hamsher said.
The $1.2 billion U.S. segment of the pipeline is part of an $8 billion system expansion that will bring oil from Alberta into the U.S. through Minnesota into Wisconsin. From Superior, the oil could either be refined at the Murphy Oil facility or piped another 450 miles to Illinois on another leg of the pipeline.