ST. CLOUD -- A public hearing was held today (Friday) at the River's Edge Convention Center at which residents from around the area could voice their support for - or opposition against - the Sandpiper oil pipeline.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission heard viewpoints from numerous parties on both sides of the issue concerning the possible construction of a pipeline that would transport oil from western North Dakota through northern Minnesota en route to Superior, Wisconsin.

Bart Anderson, CEO of U.S. SiteWork in Elk River, approves of the pipeline, saying it is not only a safe and efficient option, but also a more environmentally-responsible one.

The opposition argues more money and effort needs to be geared towards sustainable energy.

Sherry Cutter says it is time to make the move towards using safer and cleaner resources.

The $2.6 billion project is headed by Enbridge, a Canada-based energy company, who argues the pipeline is a cheaper and safer alternative to transportation via trucks and train.

Anderson says the pipeline also provides much-needed job opportunities to Minnesota, and the opposition needs to acknowledge that benefit.

Cutter says the arguments in favor of the pipeline seem to be strictly financially-driven when the goal should be progressing towards better options.

Concerns were also raised about Enbridge's legitimacy in light of past controversies - namely, the Kalamazoo River oil spill in 2010.

Today's hearing concluded a week of public hearings conducted by the MPUC all over the state and more hearings will be held this month.

Photo by Isaac Schweer, WJON