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Enbridge Energy runs public relations campaign around new pipeline; some neighbors unimpressed

Rina Miller
Michigan Radio

Enbridge Energy has a bit of a bad reputation in Michigan.  In 2010, one of the company’s pipelines burst near Marshall. More than a million gallons of oil have been cleaned up so far from the Kalamazoo River. Last winter there was a small leak near Sterling in the northeast part of the state.

But Enbridge is planning for growth. They’re replacing the pipeline that burst - Line 6B - and they’re building some new sections as well. The company hopes to double the amount of oil they can move from Canada to refineries in Michigan and Ohio (we've previously reported that an Enbridge spokesman said the main product in the new pipeline will be from Alberta's tar sands region. The EPA says the nature of tar sands oil made the Kalamazoo River spill much more difficult to clean up).

Enbridge has been running a public relations campaign to try to improve its image. But some landowners along the pipeline route are not impressed.

One of those people is Stacy Bradley.  She lives in Stockbridge.

“They’ve planned the pipeline to be right through my backyard, between the deck and where the swing set is. In order to have enough workspace, since they’re coming so close to the line, all the trees will be completely clear cut.”

Enbridge is using a Consumers Energy easement for the pipeline. It’s a strip of land Consumers Energy controls because there are power lines there. But the Bradley’s have been paying Consumers Energy to plant their gardens on that land.  And as far as they’re concerned, it’s their backyard.  Stacy Bradley says she isn’t just concerned about the construction process for the pipeline.

“It’s crude oil, so we’re really worried that something is going to happen to our adjacent wetlands, and our well, about ten feet off where the line is going to be. So we do have concerns.”

Bradley says Enbridge told her there will be compensation for property damage, but she says her family would rather have the trees.

Enbridge responded in an email to a request for comment. A spokesman said the company understands the Bradley’s concerns and are reviewing their construction plans to see if there are any modifications to reduce impact. Enbridge expects construction on this part of the pipeline to begin soon. In the meantime, a loosely organized group of residents has sprung up to ask more questions about the project.

This story was informed by the Public Insight Network.

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