Key Enbridge Line 3 Recommendations Expected in Less than a Week; Canadians Have Their Own Pipeline Strife

Proposed Line 3 pipeline expansion goes south from Clearbrook then east to Superior, WI.

We are now less than a week away from Administrative Law Judge Ann O’Reilly’s recommendations on Enbridge Line 3. O’Reilly will forward her report no later than April 23 to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) on whether or not to approve needed permits for Enbridge’s proposed pipeline expansion. Watch for updates.

That’s not the last step in the process, but it’s an important one. The PUC is expected to make the final vote in late May or early June on whether to approve Line 3’s Certificate of Need and Route Permit. The recommendations might not be as simple as thumbs up or thumbs down. The recommendations could have nuances, such as recommending an alternative route to the one Enbridge prefers.

Quick background on a bad idea: Enbridge has an old and failing pipeline through northern Minnesota connecting the Alberta tar sands fields with a crude oil pipeline in Wisconsin. Enbridge plans to abandon the old pipeline in the ground to decay. It wants to build a new and larger pipeline 337 miles through northern Minnesota, crossing the Mississippi River twice, including the headwaters region. The pipeline also will violate Anishinaabe treaty rights, passing near prime wild rice lakes and rivers.

It’s important to remember that the crude oil does not benefit Minnesota; we are just a pass through.  Yet Minnesota — and the Anishinaabe people in particular — are taking the project’s environmental risks.

It’s also worth noting that while Canada gets the economic benefit from tar sands mining and crude oil export, even Canada is struggling to approve the pipelines.

Last fall, the TransCanada Corp. ended plans to build its $15.7-billion Energy East pipeline, which would have moved more than 1 million barrels of crude oil daily east to Quebec and New Brunswick, according stories in the Globe and Mail and The Star (see: TransCanada made its decision after the Canadian National Energy Board (NEB) approved tighter scrutiny of pipeline’s climate change impacts, according to The Sun article.

Meanwhile, the British Columbia government in western Canada is trying to stop the controversial Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion. That pipeline would nearly triple the tar sands crude oil flow from Alberta to the Pacific Coast. The Star Tribune has provided recent updates on April 8 and April 15.

The April 8 story said Kinder Morgan was in doubt, “after the company announced a suspension in all non-essential activities and related spending on the project.” However, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau still is putting pressure on British Columbia to approve the pipeline.

So here’s the question: Why should Minnesota bear the burden of Enbridge Line 3 when not even the Canadians want these pipelines, and Canada gets the biggest benefit?

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