Oil & Water: Public Invited To Forum About Oil Pipeline Across St. Croix Headwaters

Panel of experts will discuss expansion and answer questions about protecting rivers and communities.




3 minute read

Line 61 crossing under the Eau Claire River, a tributary of the St. Croix.
Line 61 crossing under the Eau Claire River, a tributary of the St. Croix. (Greg Seitz/St. Croix 360)

A public forum on May 14th in Spooner, WI will offer the chance for the community to learn about and discuss Enbridge Energy’s project to increase the amount of oil flowing through its Line 61 pipeline. When the upgrade is complete later this year, 1.2 million barrels (50 million gallons) of oil will flow through it each day.

The pipeline crosses Wisconsin diagonally, including Washburn and Douglas Counties. In that area, it passes under four rivers that constitute the headwaters of the federally-protected St. Croix River: the upper St. Croix, Totogatic, Eau Claire, and Namekagon Rivers. Risks to rivers are a concern after Enbridge’s 2010 spill in Michigan, which contaminated 36 miles of the Kalamazoo River, and two major spills in the past five years in Montana’s Yellowstone River.

“It’s very important that those who care about this area are well informed about Line 61 so we can prevent a disaster here,” says Deb Ryun, executive director of the St. Croix River Association (SCRA). “This will be one of the biggest crude oil pipelines in the country, and it passes under some much-loved rivers. We need to make sure a spill never happens.”

A panel of experts will share information about the project, the rivers, and pipeline safety at the forum. The panelists include:

  • Rebecca Craven, Pipeline Safety Trust – This is the first time a representative from this national pipeline watchdog organization has visited Wisconsin. The Pipeline Safety Trust works with communities, landowners, and regulators to promote pipeline safety. Program director Craven has years of experience sharing information about pipelines across the country.
  • Becky Haase, Enbridge Energy – As Senior Advisor for Community Relations, Haase works to inform and engage the public about Enbridge’s projects. She will speak about the company’s spill prevention and response practices and how it has invested in safety since 2010.
  • Patrick Miles, Dane County – As a board supervisor and chair of Dane County’s zoning committee, Miles has been deeply involved in recent efforts to secure more insurance coverage before approving a permit for a new pipeline pumping station in the county.
  • Elizabeth Ward, Wisconsin Sierra Club – Ward has been working across Wisconsin to support safety efforts regarding Line 61. She is also involved in efforts to promote clean energy and reduce demand for the Canadian tar sands oil that flows through the pipeline.
  • Monica Zachay, St. Croix River Association – Zachay serves as Water Resources Steward, working with numerous partners to protect the St. Croix River watershed. She will talk about the rivers crossed by Line 61, ongoing work to improve their health, and potential pipeline impacts.

Each panelist will give a short presentation during the first half of the event. A question-and-answer and discussion session moderated by SCRA executive director Deb Ryun will follow.

“These speakers are some of the best informed people currently working on pipeline safety. This forum will be a big opportunity to learn about Line 61 and how local communities can help ensure its safe operation,” says Greg Seitz, editor of St. Croix 360.

Local citizens, elected officials, government staff, first responders, business-owners, river users, and any other interested parties are encouraged to attend the forum.


Line 61 Public Forum
May 14th, 2015, 7 p.m. (Doors open at 6 p.m.)
Spooner High School auditorium
801 Cty Hwy A
Spooner, WI 54801

The Line 61 public forum is sponsored by the St. Croix River Association, St. Croix 360, and the Washburn County Lakes and Rivers Association. Background information and links to recent news coverage is available at www.stcroix360.com/line61/.


2 responses to “Oil & Water: Public Invited To Forum About Oil Pipeline Across St. Croix Headwaters”

  1. Bob Avatar

    I live in Gordon, in fact, the photo you have of the St. Croix is taken from the DNR dock very near our home and the place where my grand daughter caught her first fish a couple years ago. I would hate to see the rivers degraded to the point where that couldn’t happen for another little girl. FYI, I really think the majority of people in the St. Croix Headwaters area here are unaware of what is going on with the pipeline, it is just a backdrop to their daily lives. To have it be virtually government unencumbered is especially great! I posted a notice at the bulletin board at the Gordon Post Office so hopefully that will get more people concerned. I will certainly plan to be in Spooner for the meeting. Thanx for your work in getting the news out. Many of the area shopper papers will post free meeting notices, have you tried that? Also, a possibility of pre-meeting media publicity, have you tried Wisconsin Public Radio KUWS in Superior or WOJB the Lac Court Orielles and very environmentally concerned station in the Hayward area and for a large area around.

  2. Jane Coltare Avatar
    Jane Coltare

    Regardless or whatever “economic benefits” they try to attach to this proposal it comes down to one thing – oil and wildlife don’t mix – never have, never will.
    That’s all I have to say on this matter.


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Oil & Water: Public Invited To Forum About Oil Pipeline Across St. Croix Headwaters