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Enbridge expansion will bring jobs to upper Midwest

Two oil pipeline projects expected to get underway this summer in Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota will put about 2,000 construction workers on the job. Although some regulatory approval is still needed, that's expected to come in time for the summer construction season.

The Enbridge Energy Pipeline projects are called "Alberta Clipper" and "Southern Lights" but Plumbers and Steamfitters Business Agent Jeff Deveau calls them a ray of sunshine. 30-percent of his Duluth-Superior union members are out of work.

"Locally here we've got 115 guys off right now and this job will help some of these guys from losing their homes, get health insurance again," he says.

Deveau says the recession is delaying or canceling projects that otherwise would put his people to work. Enbridge Energy Spokeswoman Denise Hamsher says most of the 2,000 construction jobs will come from Wisconsin and Minnesota. Two of the three main contractors, Precision Pipeline of Eau Claire and Michel's Construction of Brownsville, are based in Wisconsin.

"So it puts a lot of people to work when we get going and that'll continue through the construction season and back at it in 2010 to finish up and do the restoration and start the operation," says Hamsher.

The Alberta Clipper pipeline covers 1,000 miles from Superior to the Alberta oil sands of Canada, while the Southern Lights pipeline spans 674 miles from Chicago to Clearbrook in northern Minnesota.

Both projects will provide jobs to mid-2010.