By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — Enbridge Energy, a company that currently has pipelines carrying crude oil across the state of Wisconsin, donated a pickup truck to the Marshfield Fire and Rescue Department on Tuesday.
According to a press release from Enbridge, this will be the fifth vehicle donated by the company in Wisconsin this year. The donations are part of the company’s Community Investment and Safe Community programs.
“As we’re able, as we’re retiring fleet vehicles, we try and donate them — if they’re in good enough condition — back to our emergency responders,” said Jennifer Smith, a manager of stakeholder relations for Enbridge. “We do prioritize emergency response groups that are along our pipeline route.”
Enbridge also donated $500 worth of nonperishable food items to Rotary’s Winter Wonderland program, which will be distributed to area food pantries. The company has also donated funds in the past for bulletproof vests and tactical helmets that the fire department could use in an emergency situation.
Enbridge has a corridor of four pipelines that span the entire state from Superior through southern Wisconsin. Along the biggest pipeline in that corridor, Line 61, additional pump stations have been constructed to increase its capacity for transporting crude oil. Line 61 and the other three pipelines occupy an approximately 80-foot-wide corridor underground. The corridor runs just west of Marshfield.
When Line 61 was originally constructed, it transported about 400,000 barrels of crude oil per day. With the additional pump stations, the line now carries about 930,000 barrels per day, and by the end of 2017, Smith said it is anticipated the pipeline will transport 1.2 million barrels per day. Line 61, Smith said, was initially designed with the intent and ability to carry the 1.2 million-barrel load.
Smith said Enbridge transports oil from North Dakota and Alberta, Canada.
“One hundred percent of the crude oil that’s refined in Wisconsin is transported on Enbridge pipeline,” Smith said.
Possible corridor expansion
Enbridge is now considering the addition of a fifth pipeline — that would likely run parallel to the current four pipelines — to the corridor.
“Enbridge has contacted landowners along the existing corridor and is currently in the process of surveying along its Wisconsin corridor as it attempts to determine whether or not to construct another pipeline in the state,” Smith said. She added there was not a timeline for determining whether or not a new pipeline would be built.
“We’re a very market-driven business, and so there has to be that need or that demand. A company such as ours wouldn’t go build a pipeline and then hope that people would want to ship product on it,” Smith said.
Smith added that Enbridge would need to go through a permitting process and would consult all of the landowners along the corridor if the company decides to pursue the construction of another pipeline. Federal oversight from the US Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration would also be part of the construction process, Smith said.
“A project such as this isn’t something that can just happen,” Smith said. “There are multiple levels of oversight, regulation, permitting, consultation.”
The expansion hits home
The current corridor runs directly underneath Mark Borchardt’s property to the west of Marshfield, and he is concerned about the potential addition of a fifth pipeline. Borchardt said he has already lived through two expansions of the pipeline.
Borchardt said his concerns were about his rights as a property owner, the value of his property being diminished by the pipeline, and the safety of his property. Borchardt added that he had no recourse as a property owner to stop Enbridge’s activities from impacting his land.
“That’s what’s so disturbing, … and that’s what disturbs me about this gift (the pickup truck) to Marshfield is that government exists to even the playing field, right, and to keep things fair,” Borchardt said. He later added, “I know it’s good PR for Enbridge, but I don’t think it’s good government. … I feel like it creates a conflict of interest.”
“A number of property owners west of Marshfield are very, very concerned about this next expansion. We’re not happy about it,” Borchardt said.
Mayor Chris Meyer said that he both was grateful for the gift from Enbridge and understood the concerns of property owners like Borchardt.
“We appreciate their support of our fire department, which helps offset taxpayer costs, but we’re also aware of the concerns residents have just outside of Marshfield with the pipeline expansion, and we’re watching that closely and paying attention to how that’s handled,” Meyer said.