Enbridge tacitly admits there’s no need for Line 3, and other news

In this blog:

  • The PUC’s shoddy analysis could sway the court to reject Line 3
  • Pipeline companies abandoning lines in the ground, leaving mess
  • Oil pipeline trespassing on reservation land being forced to pay up

The PUC’s shoddy analysis could sway the court to reject Line 3

In 2008, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper pipeline, an example that could have an important bearing in a current court case trying to scuttle the new Enbridge Line 3.

The first basic question posed to a pipeline company looking to build a new line is whether it can show there is enough demand for refined oil products to justify building it.

In 2008, Enbridge gave the PUC an analysis of Minnesota’s future demand for refined petroleum products, based on data from the Office of Energy Security (aka Department of Commerce). Testimony showed that regional oil refineries were looking at expanding capacity, a sign of increased demand.

During Line 3 deliberations, Enbridge didn’t provide those same forecasts nor discuss whether Minnesota’s oil refineries were looking at expanding capacity. (They are not.)

In 2008, the Minnesota Department of Commerce agreed that regional oil demand would increase. In contrast, Commerce has opposed Line 3’s Certificate of Need.

Enbridge’s one and only argument to justify the new Line 3 is that Canadian oil producers want to ship more oil. That has more to do with oil supply, not demand.

Surprisingly, based only on the say-so of tar sands oil producers, the PUC approved the new Line 3.

What the 2008 Alberta Clipper application shows is that Enbridge knows what a proper demand forecast looks like.

What Enbridge’s application for Line 3 strongly suggests is that the demand does not support building a new Line 3. If it was, Enbridge would be trumpeting it.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals is currently deliberating on multiple challenges to Line 3 permits. In a hearing last month, a three-judge panel posed tough questions to Enbridge and the PUC about the need for Line 3.

Presiding Judge Lucinda Jesson said: “I really struggle with seeing where the forecast for demand is in 15 years,” MPR reported. “I expected to see not just supply projections … or pipeline capacity, but actually the demand.”

There are plenty of reasons the court should reverse Line 3’s permits. This one alone should be sufficient.

Pipeline companies abandoning lines in the ground, leaving mess

Map of existing oil and gas pipelines.

For years, Line 3 opponents have argued against building the new Line 3 pipeline, concerned that it would be abandoned in the ground sooner than later due to decreases in oil demand. The PUC required Enbridge to create a “Decommissioning Trust Fund” to remove the new Line 3 after it stops operating. Here’s hoping there are no loopholes.

News site CleanTechnica provides the bigger picture in its story: Pipeline Firms Are Abandoning Oil & Gas Lines, Leaving Landowners to Deal With the Mess. (It talks about natural gas pipelines, but the same concerns exist for crude oil pipelines.)

There are some 3 million miles of natural gas pipelines buried in the United States, shuttling the fuel between drilling sites, storage facilities, power plants and homes. More than half of all gas transmission lines in the United States were installed before 1970, according to data from the Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration. The average lifespan of a pipeline 50 years.

And it’s not just old pipelines that are set to go out of service. Younger pipelines are also at risk of falling into disuse as the power sector comes to rely less on natural gas in favor of wind, solar and batteries.

Clean Technica

Click on the link above for the full story.

Oil pipeline trespassing on reservation land being forced to pay up

A Marathon Petroleum subsidiary was ordered to pay $187 million to the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota for an underground pipeline trespassing its land, but in January a Trump official reduced the judgment to $4 million, according to Inside Climate News. Now, the Biden administration wants another look.

Tribal landowners tried for years to get fair compensation for an oil pipeline that cuts across the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota, only to see officials and the courts dismiss their concerns. 

But now, thanks to new leadership at the Department of Interior, the federal government is taking a fresh look at their claims. Some see it as a sign that, not only might their voices finally be heard in this case but also that a turnaround has begun in the nation’s long history of injustices toward Indigenous people.

Inside Climate News

One thought on “Enbridge tacitly admits there’s no need for Line 3, and other news

  1. Thanks Scott – your newsletter is always informative, bring oveerlooked or ignored information to light.


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