MPUC gives go-ahead to MinnCan Pipeline

Chuck Kajer, Managing Editor

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) gave the go-ahead last week to the Minnesota Pipeline Company to build the 304-mile-long MinnCan pipeline through parts of central Minnesota, including a portion of southern Scott County.

The commission voted 4-0 in favor of the pipeline, saying the company had met the requirements of Minnesota rules including showing the need, complying with route selection criteria and completing a route environmental assessment.

The company had filed an application with the MPUC in January, 2006. Since then, the company held 30 public meetings and hearings in the counties that the pipeline will cross.

A press release from the MPUC said the pipeline will strengthen the state's energy future by alleviating growing concerns over tight oil supplies in the Midwest while decreasing reliance on oil reserves located in more unstable nations.

The pipeline will begin in Clearbrook, in Clearwater County, and go through Hubbard, Wadena, Todd, Morrison, Stearns, Meeker, Wright, McLeod, Carver, Sibley, Scott and Dakota counties. It will cross the Minnesota River from Sibley County to Scott County southwest of Belle Plaine, then run through southern Scott County-roughly along Scott County Road 2-passing just north of New Prague then veering south of Elko New Market before heading into Dakota County. The pipeline will bring oil to two refineries in Dakota County.

In November, Administrative Law Judge Beverly Heydinger released a report recommending the MPUC approve the Certificate of Need and Route Permit applications.

Construction is scheduled to begin this summer and is expected to take eight months. The pipeline should be fully operational in 2008.

While approving the permit, the MPUC scolded MinnCan for tactics allegedly used by its agents in trying to secure land for the project. Some landowners testified that agents for MinnCan told them they could lose the land through eminent domain and get nothing for it.

Roger and Joyce Tupy of rural New Prague have been active opponents of the proposed pipeline. They say the battle isn't over yet.

We can appeal the decision to the courts

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