Now that it appears Enbridge will begin building its new and larger Line 3 tar sands pipeline through northern Minnesota, a new group will be on the ground to closely monitor and document construction and report any suspected environmental violations.
The group — WatchtheLineMN — is a coalition of individuals opposed to Line 3 and committed to preserving northern Minnesota’s clean waters and lands, including the Headwaters Region.
The next monitor training is this Sunday, 2-4 p.m. Those interested can register here. Those interested in staying on top of Line 3’s expected construction can follow Watch the Line’s website for updates.
Field notes from monitors are available to the public. (The coding on the observation log lines up with the coding on the map. For instance, SL-09 is the ninth observation spot in St. Louis County, moving west to east.
Monitor’s photos are available on-line, too, using the same coding system.
WatchtheLineMN is committed to monitoring and documenting construction while following the law. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) made it clear in its permit that Enbridge staff and security were not to hassle such observers. The Certificate of Need said:
[Enbridge and its] contractors and assigns shall respect the rights of the public to legally exercise their Constitutional rights without interference by the Permittee unless determined to be a public safety concern. The Permittee, the Permittee’s contractors and assigns will not participate in counterinsurgency tactics or misinformation campaigns to interfere with the rights of the public to legally exercise their Constitutional rights.
The PUC’s Route Permit required Enbridge to pay for third-party Independent Monitors to oversee the pipeline’s construction. These monitors are supposed to be under the direction of state agencies, reporting suspected problems.
In reality, the PUC put Enbridge in charge of both selecting and training the Independent Monitors, as if Enbridge wouldn’t have any bias in these decisions.
It’s one more reason to have public monitors watching.
This work builds on similar efforts in other states. Volunteers in Iowa organized to monitor construction on the Dakota Access Pipeline. North Carolina Pipeline Watch was created to monitor a 200-mile stretch of the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, a fracked gas pipeline that would cross several states.
The failure of state leaders and regulators to stop this dangerous and unnecessary project is deeply disappointing. Cases are pending in the Minnesota Court of Appeals to reverse state permits, though a decision is not expected soon.
The work on the ground continues.
If you have questions about Watch the Line, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.