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Sandpiper pipeline critics plan two public sessions

DULUTH, Minn. - Opponents of Enbridge Energy’s proposed Sandpiper pipeline are holding two sessions Thursday to discuss how to best affect public policy on the project.

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The sessions are set for 3 to 5 p.m. at the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Weber Music Hall and from 7 to 9 p.m. at the College of St. Scholastica’s Mitchell Auditorium.

The sessions are aimed at explaining the process of state regulation of pipelines, especially by the Public Utilities Commission. A PUC official is scheduled to attend the sessions.

Some critics have expressed opposition to the pipeline because some possible routes still officially being considered include undisturbed woods and farmland in Carlton County, in the vicinity of sustainable agriculture farms. Others oppose the idea of increasing fossil fuel use, noting any new pipeline means more oil burned and more carbon dioxide pollution that’s blamed for climate change.

The sessions, titled “Democracy in Action: Voicing Your Opinion on Pipelines, Food and Community,” are free and open to the public.

The proposed 610-mile Enbridge Sandpiper line would bring oil from North Dakota’s Bakken oil field to Superior, Wis., to be then moved on to points south and east. Canadian oil also would be connected to the pipeline in northwestern Minnesota.

Speakers include Tracy M.B. Smetana, public adviser, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission; Becky Lourey, former state senator and businesswoman; Atina Diffley, organic farmer, consultant and author; Janaki Fisher-Merritt, organic farmer; Rita Vavrosky, educator and organic farmer; Randel Hanson, UMD professor and farmer; and Igor S. Lenzner, attorney.

The event is sponsored by the Carlton County Land Stewards; UMD Department of Geography, Urban, Environment and Sustainability Studies; Whole Foods Co-op; Minnesota Public Interest Research Group, UMD Chapter; and Alworth Center for the Study of Peace and Justice, College of St. Scholastica.

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