Letter to the editor: Reader questions Enbridge’s gifts to community
Enbridge, a Canadian oil pipeline company, has become a benefactor to Marshfield, sponsoring a gas give-away on Nov. 17 and last year donating a used pickup truck to the fire department and $500 worth of food items to Rotary Winter Wonderland.
Why would a foreign company display such an interest in Marshfield? Could it be their publicity is intended to sway our local government officials, businesses, and public opinion to support their plans for a major pipeline expansion through our area?
Enbridge currently holds easements on an 80-foot wide corridor of land running from Superior to the Illinois border, including areas within one mile of the city limits west of Marshfield. Within that right of way are three pipes carrying a combined total of nearly 2 million barrels of oil per day. A fourth line carries 180,000 barrels per day of explosive diluent, used to thin the heavy tar sands oil so it can flow through the pipes. Enbridge is now planning to acquire additional land for a new right of way adjacent to the existing corridor to carry an additional 800,000 barrels of tar sands oil per day.
Alarmed by these developments, a group of concerned citizens formed 80 Feet Is Enough! (80FIE) and the Wisconsin Easement Action Team (WEAT), Marshfield-based, volunteer-run grassroots organizations devoted to resisting Enbridge’s plans. The mission of 80FIE is to reform the current eminent domain law and return property rights to landowners. WEAT is designed to offer help for landowners dealing with Enbridge during contract negotiations for new easements.
Many of us already have easements running through our properties and have lived through two expansions already. We are not environmental activists, nor do we oppose the use of oil. We all use oil byproducts every day. We are however, very concerned about the loss of our property rights, property values, water quality, and personal safety. We are opposed to giving more land so that a foreign company can use it to transport oil across Wisconsin for export.
There are no rewards for us, only risks. Between 1999 and 2010, Enbridge reported over 800 oil spills, amounting to over 161,000 barrels spilled. A leak of “only” about one barrel in 2010 near Marshfield resulted in the homeowners having to move because their well water was contaminated.
Enbridge knows that acquiring additional properties will be met with resistance, so they worked behind the scenes in 2015 to convince the state legislature to change Wisconsin’s eminent domain laws to grant oil pipeline companies the power of eminent domain. In North Dakota and Michigan, the company has sued landowners who have refused to accept its offers. Even here in Marshfield a family was told that they would be sued for $1 million each day the last expansion project was delayed because of their refusal to accept Enbridge’s offer.
Enbridge says that no decision has yet been made regarding moving forward with the new expansion. Its actions, however, tell otherwise. To date Enbridge has (1) begun replacing Line 3 in Minnesota, which will bring more oil into Superior, which in turn will need to flow southward through Wisconsin; (2) completed land surveys for the new route throughout Wisconsin; (3) convinced the state legislature to grant it the power of eminent domain; and (4) notified potential investors of the expansion.
Despite its goodwill donations to the community, the Enbridge company we know is not the “good neighbor” its promotional literature purports it to be.
80 Feet Is Enough! and WEAT Member