- Associated Press - Monday, April 4, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - A Minnesota Pollution Control Agency staff member involved in the environmental review of the Sandpiper crude oil pipeline won’t be disciplined for emails containing a critical tone about the project, the agency’s head said.

In a letter dated Saturday, MPCA Commissioner John Linc Stine said a state investigation “did not produce any cause for disciplinary action,” the Pioneer Press (https://bit.ly/1ql29rV ) reported.

The investigation began after the Pioneer Press reported in January on 2014 emails from MPCA environmental specialist Scott Lucas to activists fighting Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge’s proposed 616-mile pipeline that would bring North Dakota oil across northern Minnesota to Wisconsin.

In his letter, Linc Stine said that an independent investigation of several hundred emails concluded Lucas did not oppose the pipeline, but instead had sent two emails with “poorly chosen words.”

“All parties who work with (Lucas) agreed that (he) did not oppose the pipeline projects; rather, he opposed specific routes and alignments,” the commissioner wrote in his letter to Douglas County Commissioner Jim Stratton, chairman of the Minnesota Rural Counties Caucus.

In one email, Lucas highlights reports on another proposed pipeline as a “very useful tool for us to use when making our case against Sandpiper in this area of the state.” Another asks if there was “much BS on behalf of Enbridge” during hearings on the company’s plan.

Lucas is among several agency staff members reviewing the project. As a result of the investigation, Linc Stine wrote that due to the “controversial, sensitive nature of the proposed Sandpiper project” and the “undue focus on this employee,” Lucas will no longer work on the project.

Lucas is based in the agency’s Brainerd office. He did not immediately reply to requests from The Associated Press for comment Monday.

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This story has been corrected to correct day of letter to Saturday instead of Monday.

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Information from: St. Paul Pioneer Press, https://www.twincities.com


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