Commerce: Enbridge’s Oil Spill Insurance Inadequate for Line 3 and Mainline System

The flaws in the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC’s) decision to approve the new Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline are becoming more and more apparent. The latest is the PUC buying into Enbridge’s last-minute promise to have adequate insurance to cover a major oil spill.

According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Enbridge’s oil spill insurance coverage is not only inadequate for a new Line 3, it appears inadequate for Enbridge’s entire mainline system through northern Minnesota.

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Honor the Earth Files First Legal Challenge to PUC Approval of Enbridge Line 3

Honor the Earth is suing to stop Enbridge Line 3 in the Minnesota Court of Appeals, saying the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved the project based on a faulty and inadequate environmental impact statement (EIS).

Honor the Earth filed the legal challenge earlier this month, the first of what could be several lawsuits by various parties seeking to stop the pipeline. Honor the Earth’s lawsuit says the PUC’s decision “was contrary to law, not supported by the evidence, and arbitrary and capricious.” Continue reading

With Proverbial Gun to its Head, PUC Turns Gun on Fond Du Lac Band Instead

Enbridge wants to offer landowners along the current Line 3’s 282-mile corridor a one-time payment to allow Enbridge to leave the decaying pipeline in the ground for future generations.

In a now infamous statement, Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) member Dan Lipschultz complained that the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline proposal put a “gun to the head” of the PUC.

If the PUC didn’t approve the new pipeline, Enbridge would keep running its old, decaying pipeline, risking a major spill in northern Minnesota, something Lipschultz and Commissioner Nancy Lange said they could not live with.

The PUC could have done the responsible thing and pushed federal regulators and Enbridge to decommission and remove the old Line 3. It didn’t.

Instead, the PUC chose to put Fond du Lac Band in a no-win situation, passing along the proverbial gun to the head. The PUC gave Fond du Lac the illusion of choice by forcing it to pick between two awful choices.

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Events: Mendota Pow Wow; Mississippi Headwaters Line 3 Vigil; Iowa Climate March Against DAPL; and More!

Here are several upcoming events to consider for your calendar:

  • First Nation Farmer Climate Unity March against the Dakota Access Pipeline in Iowa, Sept. 1-8
  • Mendota Mdewakanton Tradition Pow Wow, Sept. 7-9 in Mendota
  • Book Event: The Relentless Business of Treaties: How Indigenous Land Became U.S. Property, Sept. 13 at the Minnesota State Capitol
  • Water Protector Weekend and Mississippi Headwaters Vigil, Sept. 22-24

Details follow. Continue reading

Climate Change Threatens Wild Rice and Other News and Events

Forwarding a couple of recent stories and upcoming events:

  • Climate change threatens wild rice
  • Man shot by St. Paul police identified as White Earth member, vigil held
  • Decade of Water Summit Wednesday-Thursday
  • Third Annual National Native American Ten Minute Play Festival, Wednesday to Sunday

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Pushing Back on the PUC, Part III: Friends of the Headwaters Finds Gaping Holes in Enbridge’s Promises

This is the last in a series reviewing responses to Enbridge’s last-minute promises to improve its Line 3 pipeline project. The PUC adopted Enbridge’s promises with no pubic scrutiny. Previous blogs hare reviewed responses from Native tribes and state agencies. This last blog will look at the Friends of the Headwaters response.

Enbridge promised the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that it would have the financial backing to clean up a worst-case crude oil spill from its Line 3 expansion project in Minnesota. That was one of several hurried promises Enbridge made to secure needed PUC votes.

The promises might look good on paper, but there is no guarantee they will deliver results. The Friends of the Headwaters says Enbrdige’s promises lack critical details, minimize the size of catastrophic spill, and put future Minnesotans at-risk for footing the clean-up bill.

The promises “will do little to prevent an insolvent Enbridge from avoiding its [clean-up] responsibilities,” the Friends said in a legal filing to the PUC. The problem, the Friends say, is that Enbridge hasn’t even provided an estimate for what it would cost to clean up a disastrous spill — and that’s the essential first step in providing financial accountability. Continue reading

Pushing Back on the PUC, Part II: State Agencies Criticize Enbridge Line 3 Promises, Seek Changes

This is the second in a series that will review responses to Enbridge’s last-minute promises to improve its Line 3 pipeline project. The PUC adopted these with no pubic scrutiny. This blog looks at the responses from state agencies. The last blog will look at responses from Friends of the Headwaters.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) allowed Enbridge to change its proposal after the official record had closed. Specifically, the PUC accepted Enbridge’s deal sweeteners and voted to approve them without giving regulators or the public a chance to review and critique them.

While Enbridge’s promises might look good on paper that’s no guarantee they will deliver.

In today’s blog, we look at the many questions and concerns raised by state agencies involved with project oversight: the Minnesota Department of Commerce (DOC), the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

These responses show just how little thought Commissioners gave Enbridge’s proposals before giving them the green light.

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