Minnesota Faces its Own Pipeline Battle: Enbridge Line 3

Minnesota is about to face a pipeline battle that could be similar to what we have seen just west of us with the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). The project is called Enbridge Line 3, and while technically it is being called a “replacement project,” Enbridge is proposing it follow a new route for much of its path in Minnesota.

Currently, Line 3 carries tar sands from Alberta, Canada to Duluth/Superior, entering the state near the northwest corner. The line is old and leaky. The proposed new route would turn south near Clearbrook and take a more southerly route to Superior. It also would increase carrying capacity.

These oil pipeline projects seem to put a disproportionate burden on Native peoples. Both the old Line 3 route and the new route cross treaty protected lands in Minnesota. Honor the Earth, a group dedicated to creating awareness and support for Native environmental issues, developed a Fact Sheet (with a map) on Line 3. It starts out:

Similar in size and purpose to the recently defeated Keystone XL pipeline, Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline is proposed to transport tar sands oil over 1000 miles, from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, through the heart of Anishinaabe territory and some of the best lakes and wild rice beds in the world. …

For us, on the White Earth reservation in northwestern Minnesota, these pipelines threaten our community, and our way of life. These lines would cross pristine aquatic ecosystems. This land and this water are precious and they are endangered.

Line 3 hasn’t got much attention compared to DAPL. That could change this spring when the state issues the Environmental Impact Statement on the project. That will trigger a round of public comment and more activism.

There are several upcoming events to learn more about DAPL and Enbridge Line 3.

Sierra Club Webinar

Wednesday, Jan. 11, from 7-8 p.m. the Sierra Club’s North Star Chapter will host a webinar entitled: From DAPL to Line 3: The Basics of Oil Pipelines. Click on the link to register.

SPIN Midday Dialogue

Thursday, Jan. 12, from 11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. the Saint Paul Interfaith Network will host a Midday Dialogue titled: Faith, Justice and Standing Rock: A Debriefing Dialogue—Native and Non-Native Voices/Listening. It will be held at Luther Seminary, Olson Campus Center, Lecture Hall/Lower Level, 1490 Fulham St, St Paul (View Map). The event is free and open to all. (Free will offering) Doors open at 11:15 a.m.; lunch is available in the cafeteria; bag lunches welcome. Speaking will be: Rev. Robert Two Bulls (Oglala Lakota); Rev.Joann Conroy (Oglala Lakota); Rev. Rebecca Voelkel (Scottish, MacKenzie) Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs (Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican) moderator, and founder of Healing Minnesota Stories.

Discussions That Encounter

Thursday, Jan. 12, from 7-8:30 p.m, the Discussions that Encounter Forum will host a conversation around the situation at Standing Rock and DAPL at Phillips Community Center, 2323 11th Ave. S., Minneapolis. A light supper and social time begins at 6:30 p.m. with presentation and discussion to follow. All are welcome, free of charge! Speakers include: Beverly Bushyhead (Eastern Band of Cherokee) an outspoken advocate for the rights of the original peoples and their customs, and Elana Zien, co-chair of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter’s Tar Sands Committee.

(Enter through the 11th Avenue door, check in with security, and take stairs or elevator to the 2nd floor in the cafeteria. Parking for the center is available free in their lot entered from 24th Street.)

More Background on Line 3

Line 3 was installed in the 1960s, according to Enbridge. It discusses structural problems using the term “integrity digs.” (That means they are worried about the pipe’s integrity — leaks and cracks —  so they go dig and check.) According to Enbridge, Line 3 is in need of “a substantial number of integrity digs and repairs.” It said:

Approximately 4,000 integrity digs in the U.S. alone are currently forecasted for Line 3 over the next 15 years to maintain its current level of operation. This would result in year-after-year impacts to landowners and the environment. On average, 10-15 digs are forecasted per mile on Line 3 if it is not replaced. …

Additionally, since 2008, Enbridge has voluntarily restricted pressure, reducing the average annual capacity of deliveries from 760,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 390,000 bpd.

One can assume that higher capacity means higher profits, and Enbridge is restricting pressure because the pipeline is too fragile to sustain higher pressures. Further, we can anticipate that — if the Line 3 replacement project gets built — our coming generations will be facing similar problems with it once it ages and leaks.

Under its original plan, Enbridge was going to build the new Sandpiper pipeline; it would have run from Williston, ND and connected with the rerouted Line 3 in Minnesota. Sandpiper was defeated (see earlier blog) but the Line 3 replacement project is still on the table.

Update: Just got a link to a Jan. 4 article from WDAY headlined: Tribal members learn more about another pipeline project — this one in northern Minnesota. It has more details on community meetings in northern Minnesota.

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