UPDATE: Oil pipeline info session gets heated - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Oil pipeline info session gets heated

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UPDATE: JEFFERSON (WKOW)-- A Wisconsin oil pipeline is set to triple its capacity, moving more than 1 million barrels per day by 2016. The owner, Enbridge Energy, already got most of the necessary permits approved, but held an open-house Tuesday to take public questions.

It was slated as open-house style session, with the public able to visit different booths ask employees of Enbridge Energy questions.

But within 10 minutes, residents of Jefferson County, an area the pipeline runs through, set up chairs and demanded a formal question and answer session.

“I think grassroots democracy took over when people just took chairs out,” said Greg David, a Jefferson County Board supervisor.

A spokesperson for Enbridge says they wanted to facilitate dialogue and did their best to accommodate the public's desired question and answer format.

“We operate in this area and we want to make sure we're giving information as needed to the county and county members,” said Becky Haase, an Enbridge public affairs spokeswoman.

Concerns from the standing-room only crowd centered around environmental impact and emergency response in the event of a spill.

“Are the firefighters or whoever is a first responder, how prepared are they to deal with a tar sand spill?” said Steve Spieckerman, a concerned resident.

Enbridge, which has had spills in Wisconsin resulting in more than $1 million in fines, says they meet with local first responders and have technicians living within 25 miles of the line.

“Enbridge has safety at the very forefront of everything we do,” Haase said. “It goes in to all of our operations and all of our construction processes.”

Though few of the answers provided Tuesday seemed to please the crowd, ultimately, even those who oppose the project, like David, say it's likely going to happen.

Enbridge says the expansion is necessary to meet a growing demand to ship crude oil, and the community benefits from property taxes paid by the company. However, David says that benefit doesn't outweigh the risk in his mind.


JEFFERSON (WKOW)—A forum Tuesday night will give the public a chance to hear more about the Enbridge oil pipeline project, which will triple the pipeline’s capacity from 400,000 barrels per day to 1.2 million barrels per day by 2016.

The pipeline runs from Superior to Illinois, passing through dozens of Wisconsin cities. The project already received the required permits, and Tuesday’s public information session is just to answer questions the community may have. Representatives from Enbridge Energy Partners will be on hand to field those questions.

The meeting will be in Jefferson at the Fort Community Credit Union from 6 to 8.

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