Updated: 03/19/2014 6:37 PM
Created: 03/19/2014 5:19 PM WDIO.com
By: Maarja Anderson
The mayors of Duluth and Superior are throwing their support behind Enbridge Energy's plans for pipeline expansion.
In a press conference Wednesday, the mayors announced their support in front of a room full of those who support and oppose pipeline expansion.
Enbridge says their plans are in reaction to growing demand for North American crude oil.
"We're a large trucking hub, rail hub, pipeline and, of course, the port. That is who we are, that is what we are," said Superior Mayor Bruce Hagen.
Enbridge Energy employs 750 people in theTwin Ports. It's part of that local impact that has Hagen and Duluth Mayor Don Ness supporting future Enbridge projects.
Ness said he knows the pipeline is a controversial topic in the community.
"We're either going to move it by rail, by truck, or by pipeline," explained Ness. "The debate on whether or not that crude should be coming out of the ground is not, in my mind, a debate we're weighing in here."
In terms of Minnesota and Wisconsin, Enbridge has three projects underway in the region.
Lee Monthei, Enbridge's Vice President for Execution for U.S. Major Projects, said the new projects will increase the amount of crude oil transported to the Superior Terminal, forcing the terminal to construct two new tanks.
"It's very important to have the support of our community leaders as we go forward and invest literally billions of dollars," Monthei said.
At the mayors' announcement, supporters of the expansion were in attendance, such as labor students hoping to work on the lines some day.
The opposition was there, too.
"We're talking about a pipeline that crosses the Mississippi headwaters five times and runs very close to Lake Superior. That risk [a spill] needs to be taken into account," said Logan Bailey with the Minnesota Public Interest Research Group.
He said the threat of a spill is too great for a short-term economic benefit.
Monthei said they have invested heavily in new technologies in order to prevent spills, such as the Kalamazoo River oil spill in 2010.
Public meetings regarding the the Line 67 Upgrade Project will be held in the Northland Thursday.
Police Arrest Five Individuals for Involvement in Superior Homicide
The Superior Police Department has released the name of a homicide victim in Superior Tuesday evening. They say 20-year-old Garth H. Velin of Superior was killed. Police arrested five individuals for their involvement in the homicide.
Local Specialist Asks Northlanders to 'Stay Calm' Regarding Recent Ebola Case in U.S.
Health officials are on high alert after the first case of Ebola in the United States. The patient, a man who traveled to the U.S. from Liberia, is in isolation at a Dallas hospital on Wednesday.
Police: Missing Teen Found, No Abduction Took Place
The Duluth Police Department says that the teenager allegedly pulled into a minivan on Wednesday afternoon against her will near Denfeld High School has been located.
Essar Steel Minnesota Closes Financing to Complete Mine, Pellet Plant
Essar Steel Minnesota announced they have completed their financing for their project in Nashwauk, and that construction will be ramping up.
McFadden and Franken Clash on Mining, Health Care
Candidates for U.S. Senate debated in Duluth on Wednesday. Things started off fairly friendly between Democratic Senator Al Franken and his Republican challenger, Mike McFadden.