We live in the north. This is the only land that the Anishinaabe know, and we know that this land is good land, and this water is our life-blood. One-fifth of the world's fresh surface water supply lies here, and it is worth protecting. Our wild rice beds, lakes, and rivers are precious – and our regional fisheries generate $7.2 billion annually, and support 49,000 jobs. The tourism economy of northern Minnesota represents $ll.9 billion in gross sales (or 240,000 jobs).

All of this is threatened by the proposed Sandpiper pipeline – and for us, on the White Earth reservation in northwestern Minnesota, it is the Sandpiper which threatens our community, and our way of life. The Sandpiper line of fracked oil will cross pristine ecosystems, and facilitate the creation of a national sacrifice area in western North Dakota. This land and this water are precious and they are endangered. The Enbridge Sandpiper line, hopes to bring up to 375,000 barrels of fracked Bakken oil through a route in northern Minnesota.

Fracked oil from the Bakken poses a serious risk to the North Country – particularly in light of the recent 800,000 gallon oil spill in a remote area of North Dakota. That spill, on a six-inch Tesoro line, went unmitigated for almost a week due to an understaffed Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), and all figures presently released come from Tesoro, the owner of the pipeline. The Sandpiper would carry that same oil, which has proven to be very volatile. In northern Minnesota a lot of our towns are 15-20 miles apart, with fire departments and rescue squads being even further apart.  The pipeline would be built by Enbridge, a company which carries a long history of costly disasters.

Response times are not quick and sometimes oil spills go days before discovered. In fact, less than 20% of pipeline spills are found by the company, despite their equipment. Most pipeline spill first responders are local citizens, who are not equipped to stop spills. A spill is likely given the 800 plus spills of the Enbridge Corporation in the past decade and the response will still be long. The Enbridge Kalamazoo Spill continued for 17 hours and cleanup has not been completed.







What Honor the Earth is doing:

  • Opposition Criticizes Enbridge's Self Environmental Review



Other Steps You Can Take:

  • Get informed about the pipelines, and don’t just allow the proposals to pass without voicing your concerns.Public information meetings are being held by the Public Utilities Commission, and they've released dates for these meetings and maps for the proposed routes available here.
  • Demand for infrastructure to be repaired before new lines are built.
  • And expose the truth of these expansions being for money, and not for the people and the land.
  • STAY UP-TO-DATE WITH THE SANDPIPER PROCESS Click here for instructions on how to use the edockets website to look up information (listed below). To see what documents have been submitted to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. 
  • Subscribe for regular email updates about the Sandpiper go to the Registration Page at and click on “Register” to fill out a form with your contact information. Once you submit the form with your correct address, you will receive a confirmation email which gives you a temporary password and a link to follow to get started. After creating a new password, logging in will take you to a “Menu” page where you can select the “Manage My Subscriptions” link under “ e Service” to add new subscriptions. After confirming your email address by clicking “Go” you can select “New Subscription.” In the drop down list for the “Type of Subscription,” select “Docket Number.” Choose 13 in the first “-Select-“ drop down and enter 474 for the Sandpiper Pipeline Route and 473 for the Sandpiper Pipeline Certificate of Need. Hit “Add to List” and you’re ready to receive updates!




More resources:


  • The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), the federal office responsible for pipeline safety, has ll0 inspectors nationwide and 2.5 million miles of pipeline.
  • The remote pipeline will be monitored out of tracking stations in Estevan Saskatchewan, while the pipeline will  be between 24 and 30 inches in diameter. This means, that a leak or spill could easily mean hundreds of thousands of gallons spilled in a very short time.
  • The Sandpiper line would carry up to 300,000 barrels per day of fracked oil from the Bakken Fields of North Dakota. This oil is highly volatile, ranking at a 32 in volatility, while gasoline is at 52, and has already caused two deadly explosions.
  • The Enbridge Corporation is the company which caused the largest pipeline spill in US history, in Kalamazoo Michigan, with a 1.5 million gallon spill into the Kalamazoo River system. This spill has not yet been cleaned up adequately according to regulatory standards.
  • Enbridge is planning on thousands of jobs during construction of the Sandpiper, most of those from out-of-state.   Although, by 2016, when the proposed line is complete, only around 40 employees may be working permanently on the 610 mile line. That’s a lot of risk for a few jobs, when 240,000 plus people are employed in the tourism industry, which would be at risk in the case of a spill. 

Employment And Economics

This is not a choice between jobs, and the environment. Pipelines can also create jobs in repairing and maintenance of present pipelines. The 800,000-gallon Tioga spill in late September (Tesoro), occurred in a six-inch pipeline, which was 20 years-old. The Kalamazoo spill occurred in a fifty year-old pipeline, and most of Minnesota’s pipelines are over 50 years old. The Enbridge line in the Straits of Mackinaw is 60 years-old, and very precarious. Enbridge should employ people in shoring up present pipelines, and people should be employed in fixing the crumbling infrastructure of the region. Besides that, pipelines will effect the current economy, which is based on a beautiful land and water, and all for the financial gain of a few.

The Problem With Sandpiper Contents

sandpiper8.pngEstimates indicate that 3.73 billion accessible barrels of oil lie under the Bakken Oil Field. The push to get the oil and natural gas out may cause some problems, as the market is such that extraction efforts are essentially pushed by the oil companies to extract for a good price, arguably a killing – which means that safety is not always addressed. This is, and has been, a very serious problem. 

This summer a Bakken oil-filled train blew up in Lac Megantic, Quebec. 70 cars derailed, some exploded, and 40 buildings were eliminated from the map. Around 40 people were vaporized. That’s the term that was used by the press in Quebec. The disaster illustrates a set of policy, safety, and unplanned growth challenges. 


sandpiper_3.jpgThere was a time when state agencies were required to consider all of the social, environmental, and economic impacts of any of new, major ground breaking projects or risks for hazards to water quality and the environment throughout the state of Minnesota. Stakeholders, including tribal governments, are not being contacted, nor are our federal rights to a clean environment being protected by the current state government process.

There is a lack of protection by agencies in Minnesota with regard to the Sandpiper pipeline certificate of need and routing permit process currently under the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

Right now the process appears to be an Enbridge sham:

1)     The proceedings under the Public Utilities Commission are on fast-track process that completely avoids true and meaningful participation from state and federal agencies as well as the general public

  • While Enbridge pushes quickly for the Sandpiper pipeline permits, the Alberta Clipper (Line 67) expansion and Line 3 replacement go excluded from consideration. Currently, there are no pipeline proceedings that take into consideration the culmination of pipelines that are being proposed throughout North America. Read more about the other pipelines at Think Progress (LINK TO THINK PROGRESS – WHILE AMERICA SPARS OVER the Keystone XL)
  • The Minnesota Department of Commerce has shown bias in favor of the pipeline and has even assisted Enbridge
  • Public meetings have been scattered in March after a long cold winter, in places people can hardly afford to travel, during the middle the day when many have jobs and kids. This is unconscionable.
  • The timing of the Enbridge application circumvents involvement from summer property owners and vacationers who might also like to comment.

2)     The company hides useful information that would allow for genuine citizen engagement.

  • Citizens are expected to comment on, and provide alternatives to, a 610 mile pipeline by April 4th without accurate maps provided by Enbridge.
  • A request for the map was refused and declared a "trade secret" under federal regulations for public infrastructure vulnerable to terrorist attack
  • This explanation is insufficient and excludes support from expert opinion.

 3) The environmental review process has been tinkered with over the years.

  • Some changes were beneficial to improving the process and some appeared to be politically motivated to satisfy powerful interests.
  • In 2005, legislation transferred the environmental review process away from Environmental Quality Board in cooperation with Department of Transportation, Department of Natural Resources, Pollution Control Agency, and with the assistance of the Department of Commerce and Department of Agriculture to the Public Utilities Commission for things like crude oil pipelines.
  • Crude oil is not even a PUC regulated commodity and crude oil pipelines are certainly not a public utility, but rather a private commodity conveyance system that has wrongfully been afforded the power of eminent domain.

4) Their Aboriginal and Native American Policy (The link an attachment entitled “Enbridge Aboriginal and Native American Policy in) recognizes the legal and constitutional rights possessed by Native American people and states that they engage in “sincere consultation with Native Americans which may have an impact on their legally and constitutionally protected rights,” but it’s not what Enbridge is doing with the Sandpiper pipeline project. 

Before governmental approval occurs, there must be consideration of the fundamentally undemocratic nature of the process.

Who are the citizens to rely upon to correct an unfair process to protect their property and environment?

Honor the Earth is stepping up where the United States of America’s State and Federal agencies should be. We want to support them in doing the right thing and saying “no” to these new industrial disaster lines. Click here to see what we’re doing to protect our communities. 

Read the Mandatory Environmental Review Categories (MERC) dated January 2013 to learn more about how Big Oil is evading the very protection mechanisms the State and US Constitutions protect against in the 5th Amendment with regard to unjust takings. 

Sandpiper Community Briefing

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