The controversial Enbridge Line 3 pipeline still faces significant court challenges and needs numerous state and federal permits, but Enbridge already has begun to work on the project.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has given Enbridge permission to conduct “pre-construction” work for its Line 3 crude oil pipeline on DNR-administered state lands, the DNR says. “These activities include civil and environmental survey and geotechnical boring,” the statement said.
The DNR’s statement came in response to questions posed by Healing Minnesota Stories about reports that Enbridge might have begun Line 3 construction prior to receiving necessary permits.
On March 22, the website Last Real Indians posted an article titled: Enbridge Drill Site Exposed on Mississippi River. It reported:
Yesterday, members of the Ginew Collective supported by Northfield Against Line 3 exposed an Enbridge drilling worksite on the eastern shore of the Mississippi River on the proposed Line 3 route.
Construction workers in Enbridge vests were engaged in what appeared to be core sampling for a Horizontal Directional Drill (HDD) to bore Line 3 under the Mississippi River. No work permits were posted or produced upon repeated inquiry of onsite workers.
The work was being done near Ball Bluff in Aitkin County, the story said. Healing Minnesota Stores emailed the DNR to ask if it was aware of the work, if the complaint was legitimate, and what action, if any, the DNR was taking. (The email included a link to the story in Last Real Indians.)
The DNR said it did not have enough information to respond to the question.
Per your specific questions about Ball Bluff: Without a legal description of the location of the activity being inquired about, we are unable to determine if it is work being completed 1) on State or privately owned land, 2) is related to the proposed Line 3 Replacement project or 3) is related to other existing Enbridge pipelines that were previously licensed. The DNR has received only one other similar inquiry about work Enbridge is conducting.
The DNR elaborated on what it has permitted on state-owned lands:
Geotechnical boring is a preconstruction activity. It is a below ground investigation of the soil strata to establish its compressibility, strength, and other characteristics likely to influence a construction project, and prepare a subsurface profile and soil report. Permission for these activities are done in the form of a lease.
Pipeline opposition continues to scout Line 3’s proposed new route to monitor Enbridge’s activities, identify environmental damage being done, and to stop it where possible.
Several court challenges are still in process to stop this unnecessary project.
Trump Expected to Sign Executive Order Undermining Environmental Protections, Affecting Enbridge Line 3
Minnesota Public Radio reported today that President Trump is expected to sign an executive order that would weaken key clean water protections and make it harder for states like Minnesota to stop pipeline projects, such as Enbridge Line 3. The order “could make it harder for states to scuttle pipelines and other energy projects based on concerns about their impact on water quality,” the story said.
Pointing to Washington state and New York, Republican lawmakers have complained about states using the permitting process to stop energy projects. A senior administration official told reporters there are problems with the way some states are interpreting Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. Under that section, companies must obtain certification from the state before moving ahead with an energy project.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is in the early stages of reviewing a “Section 401” permit for Enbridge Line 3. The permit would consider water quality impacts of Line 3’s construction and operation. The MPCA is not expected to make a decision about the permit until late October.
Trump’s efforts to weaken water protections is very bad news for the Land of 10,000 Lakes.
Line 3’s new route would cross 75 miles of northern Minnesota wetlands. It would cross 211 streams. It would cross under the Mississippi River — twice. It would threaten a number of wild rice beds. Weakening water quality protections is very short sighted.
Click on the link above for more details.