Chesterton Tribune

 
 

Save the Dunes, HEC, others urge state scrutiny of Enbridge pipeline

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A host of environmental groups—including Save the Dunes and the Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC)—has released a joint statement urging the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) to impose stringent conditions on Enbridge Energy’s new pipeline project, which will traverse the northern half of Porter County.

That statement was released on Monday by Save the Dunes, HEC, the National Wildlife Federation, the Indiana Wildlife Federation, the Porter County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League, the Dunelands Group of the Hoosier Chapter of the Sierra Club, Freshwater Future, the Great Lakes Environmental Law Chapter, and the Alliance for the Great Lakes.

Enbridge is proposing to replace approximately 210 miles of its existing Line 6B crude oil pipeline in Northwest Indiana and Southwest Michigan. The project will begin in Lake County, enter Porter County in Liberty Township, and cross into Jackson and Pine Townships before continuing into LaPorte County. Crews would remove the oil from the existing pipeline, fill the pipe with nitrogen, and leave the pipe in the ground.

Enbridge says that the purpose of the project is twofold: to reduce maintenance activities and to restore the pipeline’s capacity to meet increasing demand along its route.

The joint statement:

“The signatories to this statement jointly express our deep concern about the potential impact of Enbridge Energy’s proposed Line 6B pipeline on water quality, vital habitat, and public health in Northwest Indiana. On Dec. 18, 2012, (IDEM) will hear comments on the Clean Water Act Section 401 water-quality certification necessary for Enbridge to begin construction. We urge IDEM to ensure that Enbridge implements every possible precaution to protect the people and natural resources of Northwest Indiana and Lake Michigan.

“The new pipeline, if constructed, will transport 500,000 barrels per day of diluted bitumen, or ‘tar sands oil,’ with an annual carrying capacity of 800,000 barrels per day. The physical and chemical properties of this product pose a unique, long-term threat to the environment and water resources of the Lake Michigan watershed and to the health and safety of residents of Northwest Indiana.

“Enbridge has a dismal track record on the construction and maintenance of its pipelines. In 2010, missteps on the part of Enbridge Energy resulted in a spill of 1.1 million gallons of tar sands oil into 34 miles of the Kalamazoo River, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reports.

“Enbridge ignored warning signs for years, and as a result, residents were forced from their homes by toxic fumes and the river was closed to use. In addition, Enbridge’s Southern Access pipeline construction in Wisconsin resulted in over 500 environmental violations of water quality regulations in 2008. In the past year, the spill of over 50,000 gallons of oil at a farm in Wisconsin in July and the November leak of almost 40,000 gallons in Mokena, Ill., have underlined the ongoing practices of this company that put us at risk.

“Now, Enbridge is proposing to double or potentially quadruple the capacity of its tar sands pipeline here in Northwest Indiana through the construction of a larger diameter 50-mile pipeline. The construction will negatively impact the 145 wetlands and 82 waterways/water bodies found within the Line 6B construction area. If a Michigan-style spill happened at any one of the 30 major waterways crossed by the proposed pipeline, the spill would reach Lake Michigan. The impact on our economy, public health, and the environment would be catastrophic.

“This is why we urge IDEM to require the following conditions for all issued permits:

“•Enbridge must follow alternative routes to protect sensitive wetlands. Enbridge proposes to cut directly through valuable water resources in Lake, Porter, and LaPorte Counties despite their acknowledgment that practicable alternatives exist that would avoid these areas. Protecting these wetlands is critical to water quality in Northwest Indiana and the Lake Michigan watershed.

“•Hire Independent Environmental Monitors (IEM) through a regulatory agency such as the Indiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) or IDEM and require Enbridge to pay the bill. These IEMs would monitor pipeline construction on a daily basis to ensure compliance with environmental regulations protecting all natural resources. This approach has been implemented in Wisconsin with great success, and similar monitors have been proposed for the Michigan portion of this project.

“•Include construction best practices as conditions of all permits to protect water quality. Requirements should include flagging of wetland boundaries, erosion control measures, invasive species management planning, endangered resources management planning, and the use of construction mats in all wetlands.

“•Include post-construction restoration and monitoring requirements in all permits, including a 10-year post-construction restoration and monitoring plan and mechanisms to ensure that Enbridge will pay for the full restoration. Photographic proof of restoration should be provided to IDEM one month and one year after project completion.

“In addition, we are concerned that the proposed pipeline project will not receive adequate review at the federal level, putting endangered species and other key resources at risk. We call on the Army Corps of Engineers to complete rigorous agency review of the project through an individual permit under the Clean Water Act Section 404, rather than allowing the project to side-step critical checks through Nationwide Permit 12.”

“For over a century, residents of our region have fought to protect the globally significant Indiana Dunes. There could be grave repercussions for our region should a single mishap occur along the proposed pipeline. In light of Enbridge Energy’s poor environmental record, we call on all relevant agencies to ensure that Enbridge’s construction and safety practices fully protect the environment of Northwest Indiana.”

 

Posted 12/18/2012