5 public hearings set by Minnesota regulators on Enbridge's Sandpiper oil pipeline proposal

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ST. PAUL, Minnesota — Minnesota's Public Utilities Commission has scheduled five hearings over five straight days next month to hear from people with strong opinions about a proposed oil pipeline.

The hearings on the Enbridge Energy Partner's planned Sandpiper pipeline have been set for the first full week of January. They start on Jan. 5 at St. Paul's RiverCentre before successive hearings in Duluth, Bemidji, Crookston and St. Cloud.

About half of a proposed 612-mile pipeline would run through northern Minnesota, carrying oil from North Dakota to Superior, Wisconsin. Hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil per day would flow through the new line.

Permitting complications in Minnesota have slowed the project. If approved, it likely wouldn't be in service until 2017.

Environmentalists are pushing for a different route to avoid sensitive wetlands.

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