A friend shared with me an Enbridge Line 3 sponsored Facebook ad. It reads in part: “The Line 3 Replacement Project is the future of Minnesota — $30 million in tax revenue …”
This is part of the last-minute pr flurry. Read with caution.
Saying the Line 3 Replacement Project is the “future of Minnesota” is hyperbole at best. Fossil fuels are a dying industry in developed countries. Minnesota’s annual sales of refined petroleum products are declining. Enbridge wants this pipeline to get more petroleum to export markets.
Petroleum is not Minnesota’s future.
Next, let’s focus on one of Line 3’s promised benefits: Increased tax revenue. There’s an important backstory to tell. Overall, Enbridge pays more than $30 million in property taxes to Minnesota counties its pipelines cross. (Perhaps that’s the $30 million referred to in the Facebook ad.)
If Line 3 were approved, Enbridge says, Minnesota could get as much as $19.6 million more in property taxes annually (see the Certificate of Need, page 4-5).
Here’s the kicker: Enbridge is currently suing Minnesota counties for what it says are property tax overcharges. Enbridge claims the state has overvalued its pipeline property. MPR wrote about it in the fall of 2017, under the headlines: Enbridge tax fight could cost northern Minn. counties millions of dollars. It said:
In total, Enbridge is appealing five years of property taxes. The court case … covers 2012 to 2014. During that period, Enbridge says it overpaid $18 million. For 2015 and 2016, it argues it’s owed an additional $32 million in overpaid taxes. … And Enbridge also plans to appeal its 2017 taxes, said spokesperson Shannon Gustafson.
This could be devastating for some small northern counties, where Enbridge is the largest property tax payer, MPR wrote.
So on one hand, Enbridge is promising up to $19.6 million a year in new property tax revenue on Line 3. On the other hand, its suing for $50 million in what it says are tax overcharges and its suing for an ongoing decrease in its property taxes.
The projected $19.6 million property tax increase from Line 3 is based on the current tax schedule. That means if Enbridge wins its tax case, the promised property tax payments from the new Line 3 will shrink.
What else isn’t Enbridge telling you?