LAPORTE | There may be a growing chorus of Northwest Indiana residents who are frustrated about a proposal from Enbridge Energy LP to build a new oil pipeline adjacent to an existing one that spans four Indiana counties.
Nearly all of the 11 people who spoke at an Indiana Department of Environmental Management hearing Tuesday urged IDEM to provide a rigorous review of the entire project because they questioned the company's effort to reduce impacts to landowners and the environment.
Enbridge plans to shut down its existing Line 6B crude oil and liquids pipeline that runs from Griffith to Sarnia, Ontario, and build a new one adjacent to it. The new pipeline, which is expected to cost hundreds of millions of dollars to construct, would have a larger transmission capacity than the current one.
IDEM organized the hearing to help guide its decision to approve or deny two Enbridge applications establishing the framework for placing fill material in state-regulated waters and how the company will mitigate the environmental impacts. About 60 people from Indiana, Illinois and Michigan attended the public hearing.
“We're in this to make sure that the pipeline that goes in is the best possible construction that it can be to protect us in the future, while at the same time making sure that the company is doing everything it can and should to maintain the integrity of the current line," said Nicole Barker, executive director of Michigan City-based Save the Dunes.
Barker and others continued to ask that Enbridge be required to fund the cost of independent environmental monitors to ensure the company is meeting its permit obligations.
Kim Ferraro, Hoosier Environmental Council Water and Agriculture policy director, said IDEM also should require Enbridge to conduct post-construction wetland and waterway monitoring until full restoration is achieved, provide a clear timeline for annual monitoring and have a financial assurance mechanism to ensure funds are available for additional restoration work.
“If you allow Enbridge to do this, you need to appoint somebody that can absolutely put their foot down, pound a stop work order in the ground when they see this stuff being done,” said New Carlisle farm owner John Vanek.