UPDATE: Hundreds turn out for public forum on oil pipeline expan - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Hundreds turn out for public forum on oil pipeline expansion

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WHITEWATER (WKOW) -- A Canadian oil company is expanding a pipeline that runs through Wisconsin, but many who live near it are not on board with the project.

Enbridge wants to expand Line 61 from a capacity of 400,000 barrels a day to 1.2 million barrels a day. The DNR approved permits for Enbridge to begin work on expanding the pipeline's capacity after two public input meetings in small towns that were not well publicized.

The pipeline travels past a number of local communities, including Waterloo, Portage, Fort Atkinson and Whitewater. Some who live along the line say they were left out of the public input process. They're now pressing state natural resource officials to require more information from Enbridge. Hundreds of them showed up to a public forum on Thursday.

Ed and Jackie Billings live in a home that sits less than a mile from Line 61 in Waterloo. Ed Billings says it isn't the crude oil being transported down the line he's concerned about.

"There's also a 24-inch pipeline that transports lightweight fractions back north that they use as solvents to dilute the oil so they can pump it. I am more concerned about those lightweight fractions in a slow leak, getting into the ground and it can get into the groundwater," Ed says.

Environmentalists speaking at the public forum say that's one of the many things Enbridge isn't publicizing, leaving citizens in the dark.

"The time to find out that these pipelines could wreak havoc on a place like the Rock River is not after that happens," says Elizabeth Ward with the Sierra Club.

But Enbridge officials say the pipeline, while not perfect, is a much safer delivery method than transporting crude oil by rail.

Still, four counties and one city in Wisconsin have now passed resolutions asking the DNR to force Enbridge into submitting an environmental impact statement, something they have not been required to do as part of the expansion.


WHITEWATER (WKOW) -- UW-Whitewater is hosting a public forum Thursday afternoon on a proposal by Enbridge, Inc. to triple capacity of its Line 61 crude oil pipeline that runs through Wisconsin from Lake Superior to central Illinois.

Line 61 currently carries 400,000 barrels of oil per day, but would increase capacity to 1.2 million barrels.  Enbridge officials say the economy is getting stronger and customers want to ship additional quantities of crude oil from Canada and North Dakota.

The pipeline runs through numerous local communities including Portage, Waterloo, Whitewater and Delavan.

Enbridge needed only a wetlands permit from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and got it without a single public comment being filed this past spring.  There were only two public notices posted regarding the permitting process in newspapers in Marshfield and Spooner.

Officials from The John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club note that the public should have been more informed, since Enbridge has had over 800 spills since 1999.

The forum runs from 3:00-5:00 p.m. in the James R. Connor University Center Summers Auditorium.  Representatives from Enbridge, the DNR and the Sierra Club will all speak about the proposal and answer questions from the audience.

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