U.S. Climate Action Network in Town, Members Voice Opposition to Enbridge Line 3

Members of the U.S. Climate Action Network met with local indigenous and environmental leaders opposing Line 3 at Kellogg Park in St. Paul, across from the conference hotel.

It’s been a good month for those opposing the proposed Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota.

First, earlier this month, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that Line 3’s environmental impact statement was inadequate because it failed to consider the harm of spills in the Lake Superior watershed. That decision essentially voids Line 3’s Certificate of Need and Route Permit from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). That sends the issue back to the PUC for further deliberations and a revote, and it delays the permitting process the project needs to move forward.

Second, the U.S. Climate Action Network’s (USCAN’s) annual meeting is happening now in St. Paul, and affiliated organizations are throwing their support behind the Stop Line 3 movement. Around 80 people from both local and national groups gathered today at Kellogg Park near the Mississippi River to express their opposition to this unnecessary and dangerous project.

Permits delayed

Enbridge Line 3 needs a number of state and federal permits before it can start construction. The Minnesota Court of Appeals decision puts those permits on hold.

As one example, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) needs to approve Line 3’s water crossings permits (aka Section 401 permits). Line 3 will cross more than 200 water bodies — some of the cleanest in the state. The MPCA needs to review the pipeline’s impact on water quality.

The MPCA had expected to release a draft permit and begin taking public comments in early July. The MPCA issued the following statement on Tuesday, following the Court ruling:

After reviewing the Minnesota Court of Appeals’ ruling regarding the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Line 3 project, both agencies [MPCA and the Department of Natural Resources] have determined that, consistent with state law, they may not take final action on the applications pending before them until the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) addresses the EIS deficiency identified in the court’s remand. …

Most notably, the MPCA will not be releasing draft permits and the 401 water quality certification on July 1 as previously scheduled. This schedule adjustment will allow MPCA to consider the additional PUC environmental review analysis before initiating its public comment process.

Keeping the Pressure on the MPCA and Gov. Walz

Deb Topping of the Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe.

Representatives from both Governor Walz’ Office and the MPCA were invited to attend the USCAN gathering at Kellogg Park today.

Walz’ office was a no-show. Melissa Kuskie attended on behalf of the MPCA. She is the manager of the agency’s environmental review & rules section.

Kuskie listened attentively as a number of people spoke. Deb Topping, a member of the Fond du Lac Band of Ojibwe, presented Kuskie with three small bottles to keep on her desk as reminders of why stopping Line 3 matters. The first bottle had a sample of clean northern Minnesota water. The second had wild rice, the third maple syrup.

Some 20 members of USCAN read letters prepared for Governor Walz and the MPCA asking them to stop Line 3.

Not surprisingly, the letters addressed climate change concerns, such as this letter from Marc Fink, Senior Attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity,

The Line 3 project would undermine our ability to avert the worst effects of climate change by locking us into decades of continued fossil fuel dependence. Line 3will carry tar sands oil, which is the dirtiest oil on earth—up to 37% more carbon intensive than other oil. Building Line 3 would enable the emission of as many greenhouse gases as 50 coal-fired power plants. Like a household budget, the planet has a fossil fuel budget, and it has been overspent. There is enough oil, gas, and coal in already open, producing fields globally to take us far beyond the Paris climate targets. Now more than ever, we must keep fossil fuels in the ground.

A letter from New York-based The Climate Mobilization said:

The Climate Mobilization and Duluth Climate Mobilization unequivocally oppose Line 3. Climate change is an emergency, and we have just a short time left to stop using fossil fuels. Building this pipeline to transport extreme dirty tar sands energy is antithetical to stopping climate change. In addition, this unnecessary pipeline threatens Manoomin (wild rice) beds and the Ojibwe treaty ceded territory.

Several people spoke of their local experiences with Enbridge. Huda Alkaff, founder and director of the Wisconsin Green Muslims, read from her letter:

As Wisconsinites, we are standing together with our neighbors in Minnesota in opposition of line 3 pipeline. With Enbridge having a terrible record where spills are concerned, we have serious concerns about a spill in Lake Superior. Our sacred waters, the Great Lakes and other water bodies cannot afford a tar sands oil spill.

In 2012, Wisconsin had its own spill in Grand Marsh (Adams County). According to the Wisconsin State Journal, the rupture spilled an estimated 50,000 gallons of oil and contaminated 17,000 tons of soil. Unfortunately, tar sands pipeline ruptures are not rare events. In fact, Enbridge has had 800 pipeline spills since 1999, spewing 6.8 million gallons of oil into our environment. Should we trust this corporation with our Great Lakes and other sacred water resources?

Bill Wood, executive director of the Western Michigan Environmental Action Council, read from his letter:

I write you this letter not just as an environmentalist, but as a resident of Grand Rapids, Michigan. I live 50 miles north of Kalamazoo, MI, near the site of the worst inland oil spill in American history. The companythat was responsible for this spill, Enbridge, is now attempting to construct its Line 3 through Minnesota. As someone who works with government agencies as well as regional/local businesses in West Michigan, I can testify firsthand that the rewards come nowhere close to justifying the risks associated with an Enbridge pipeline, and plenty of Michigan folks who were “middle of the road” before are now opposed to fossil fuel infrastructure after the Line 6B accident of 2010.

For other examples, see these letters from Taysha Martineau, Fond du Lac member & front line activist; Oil Chnage International, The Imani Group, Environmental Action, and the Power Shift Network.

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