Environmental groups give Enbridge project mixed review

2013-05-29T16:22:00Z 2013-05-30T10:50:36Z Environmental groups give Enbridge project mixed reviewElvia Malagon elvia.malagon@nwi.com, (219) 933-3246 nwitimes.com

Local environmental groups expressed concern Wednesday about a project to reconstruct a pipeline for Canadian tar sands oil that will span Northwest Indiana.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management in April approved a Section 401 Water Quality certification to Enbridge Energy. The company already has a 30-inch pipeline that runs across Lake, Porter, LaPorte and St. Joseph counties. The project would expand the pipeline to 36 inches in diameter.

Local groups were concerned because the project affects 145 wetlands, according to documents submitted to IDEM.

The certificate was issued after a public comment period and review of documents, said Amy Hartsock, a spokeswoman for IDEM.

According to a letter from IDEM, the certificate will require monitoring of the construction and mitigation. Evaluations are required at least once per week and after storms. 

Nicole Barker, executive director for Save the Dunes, said in a news release the group was happy with some of the steps made to protect nearby areas, such as hiring Independent Environmental Monitors to review environmental concerns about the project.

"The permit includes several significant steps to protect natural resources during and after construction of the pipeline, and we applaud IDEM and Enbridge for including these measures," Baker said in a prepared statement. "However, it is by no means a grand slam."

The group said in the release it was concerned about the effect of the project on sensitive areas along Lake Michigan. Save the Dunes also wanted Enbridge to further explore other pipeline routes.

Hartsock said IDEM does not know when construction is expected to begin.

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