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The wrong decision: Clipper pipeline approved in U.S.

On August 20, the U.S. state department granted a permit allowing Enbridge to build the U.S. portion of the Clipper pipeline bringing tar sands crude from Alberta to Wisconsin and the U.S. midwest.

As reported by Lisa Schmidt for Canwest, “When the $3.7-billion pipeline is completed in about a year, it will ship 450,000 barrels of bitumen a day to Superior, Wis., with the potential to reach 800,000 barrels a day.

Construction work will begin immediately on the U.S. leg, expected to cost about $1.2 billion. The Canadian segment of the Enbridge pipeline starts at Hardisty, Alta. — about 200 kilometres southeast of Edmonton — and goes through Saskatchewan and Manitoba to the U. S. border. It has been under construction since last summer.”

Approving the Clipper pipeline was the wrong choice.

This pipeline has been the subject of significant opposition in both Canada and the U.S. This includes campaigns to dissuade U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and the U.S. state department, to deny the needed permit (including a Council of Canadians action alert) and a challenge to the terms of an agreement between Enbridge and the Leech Lake Ojibwe reservation allowing construction of the Aliberta Clipper and Southern Lights Dilluent pipelines on tribal lands.

A coalition of environmental and Native American groups issued as statement opposing the recent decision.

“The State Department has rubber-stamped a project that will mean more air, water and global warming pollution, particularly in the communities near refineries that will process this dirty oil,” said Earthjustice attorney Sarah Burt. “The project’s environmental review fails to show how construction of the Alberta Clipper is in the national interest. We will go to court to make sure that all the impacts of this pipeline are considered.”

The groups — Earthjustice, Indigenous Environmental Network, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and Sierra Club — pointed out that this decision contradicts President Obama’s promise to cut global warming pollution and America’s addiction to oil while investing in a clean energy future.

“We are saddened by the news that the Presidential Permit was signed today,”  said Marty Cobenais of the Indigenous Environmental Network, a Bemidji, Minn.-based non-profit. “The voices and rights of the Leech Lake Band members are not being listened to by the Obama Administration. According to the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Constitution they are allowed to hold a referendum vote and allow the members to decide to accept the agreement with Enbridge or not. Nearly 700 signatures were obtained. If they vote against the agreement, the pipeline route would have to go around the boundaries of the Leech Lake Reservation, which would require a new Environmental Impact Study, plus other permits including a new Presidential Permit.

“This project is being approved without all the federal regulations completed. The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is still waiting to receive a completed application from Enbridge Energy and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe to begin their approval process for allotment lands affected by these pipelines.”