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LETTER: Sandpiper Pipeline matters to farmers

ELDRED, Minn. — I have been a grain elevator operator for more than 30 years, and on occasion, I’ve experienced delays on the rail lines that have impacted my business.

But the delays we’re being forced to deal with now are unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and this causes me great concern.

I have heard experts talk about the bad weather this past winter, the abundance of rain this spring and many other reasons for this problem. The weather definitely has not helped matters, but there is no question that oil car traffic on rail lines has increased dramatically and also is impacting this situation.

All anyone needs to do is watch the railroad cars filled with Bakken oil roll through our towns to know that something new and big is happening.

The Bakken oil boom is good for our country and region. I support the jobs that it creates, and I appreciate the fact that it will help make us energy independent as a nation.

But we need to develop alternative methods other than rail of moving this oil.

That is why the current Sandpiper pipeline proposal by Enbridge is so important to my business.

This pipeline will move 375,000 barrels of Bakken crude oil per day to market, significantly relieving congestion on rail lines — and that’s the difference between my cash grain sitting in my elevator or getting to market on time.

The National Grain and Feed Association recently testified before Congress that the United States’ reputation as a grain exporter is at risk because of rail delays. And while this is very accurate, more than our reputation is at stake: Our small businesses are in danger.

I understand Enbridge has spent significant time and resources studying the best route for this new pipeline. The route they have proposed is the safest and the one that works the best for the most people.

If there are adjustments that need to be made along this route, I’m sure they can be made.

We need our regulators and our elected officials to move this route quickly through the process so the pipeline can start moving oil as soon as possible.

Minnesota farmers have lost more than $100 million waiting for rail delays to be dealt with. How many more millions are we going to lose before this pipeline is approved, and we can get back to business?