MN environmental leaders press Walz to pull Line 3 permits, PA Attorney General sues pipeline company for ‘environmental crimes,’ and more

In this blog:

  • Minnesota environmental leaders press Walz, Flanagan to pull Line 3 permits due to Enbridge’s construction problems and reporting failures
  • Scientists provide extensive list of Enbridge Line 3’s construction and oversight problems
  • Pennsylvania Attorney General sues Energy Transfer for ‘environmental crimes’ during construction of the Mariner East 2 Pipeline
  • Scientists release water analysis from Enbridge Line 3 frac out sites
  • Looking at future environmental damage from Enbridge Line 5 in Wisconsin

Minnesota environmental leaders press Walz, Flanagan to pull Line 3 permits due to Enbridge’s willful construction problems and reporting failures

Nine leading state environmental groups wrote Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan Monday pressing them to pull Line 3’s permits. The letter cited Enbridge’s failure to follow its own construction plans, breaching an artesian aquifer near Clearbrook on Jan. 21. Enbridge tried to keep the problem from regulators. “Our understanding is that Enbridge only told state regulators about it in June after its attempts to cover it up became unsustainable and after it had received the amended dewatering permit it sought,” the letter said.

“The breached aquifer has been draining at a rate of approximately 106,000 gallons a day. Over 25 million gallons have been lost so far.”

Enbridge also had 28 drilling fluid spills at Horizontal Directional Drilling river crossing sites, for as much as 13,000 gallons over a two-month period, the letter said. “Spills affected 63% of the river crossings, all in violation of Enbridge’s permit conditions.”

Map showing frac-out locations June 8 – Aug. 5, 2021. Several sites had multiple frac-outs. Image: Watch the Line

“In light of these serious failures of construction, reporting and compliance with permits, the state needs to act now to prevent Enbridge from doing more harm,” the letter said. “Please use your power as Governor, working with your state agencies, to suspend the permits now.”

The letter was signed by leaders of Fresh Energy, Friends of the Mississippi River, Audubon Minnesota, League of Women Voters MN, Clean Water Action MN, MN Interfaith Power & Light, Climate Generation, MN Environmental Partnership, and the Sierra Club North Star Chapter. The director of the Minnesota Well Owners Association also signed.

Scientist provide extensive list of Enbridge Line 3’s construction and oversight problems

In a similar vein, Science for the People-Twin Cities developed an extensive list of Line 3’s environmental damage and regulatory shortcomings. In hopes of generating more accountability, it sent the report to Minnesota state Sen. John Marty.

The report states:

We need your help to bring focus to correcting the failures and the unresolved water impacts. Right now Enbridge, their consultants and contractors and our Minnesota regulators act as if it is okay to leave the environmental mitigation for the final accounting after oil is flowing. By contrast, Minnesotans think that now is the time for accountability before tar sand oil flows through the pipeline.

Science for the People-Twin Cities

The report identifies failures by state and federal agencies to abide by treaty law; failures by state agencies to engage in meaningful tribal consultation; inspection and reporting failures by Enbridge, false statements and obfuscation by state agencies, and more.

Pennsylvania Attorney General sues Energy Transfer with ‘environmental crimes’

Meanwhile, in Pennsylvania, Attorney General Josh Shapiro charged Energy Transfer LP “with 48 counts of environmental crimes for its conduct during construction of the … Mariner East 2 natural gas liquids pipeline,” Reuters reported Tuesday.

The violations sound similar to problems with Enbridge Line 3 in Minnesota.

“The Attorney General’s office said that in addition to repeatedly spilling thousands of gallons of drilling fluid, Energy Transfer on several occasions failed to report the spills to state environmental regulators in spite of the legal requirement to do so,” Reuters reported.

For full story, click here.

Scientists release water analysis from Enbridge Line 3 frac out sites

Science for the People Twin Cities helped collect and analyze water samples at the sites of Enbridge Line 3 frac outs. (Volunteer pipeline monitors began collecting water samples out of concern the state wasn’t sampling.)

Frac outs occur during horizontal directional drilling (HDD). For Line 3, Enbridge used HDD to drill under 21 waters and wetlands. The process requires “drilling mud” to lubricate and cool the drill. The process happens under pressure. Drilling mud can get forced into subsurface soil cracks and pushed to the surface. It can show up on land or in waterways. (Sometimes, it doesn’t surface, but remains invisible underground.)

Here are key findings in Science for the People’s report:

  • When drilling mud was spilled directly into river channels, high levels of total suspended sediment (TSS) were measured in the river. TSS can be damaging to aquatic life.
  • Drilling mud collected at one site had 401 mg/kg of sulfate. Sulfate in water is damaging to wild rice. Furthermore, water samples downstream of the same drilling fluid spill had sulfate concentrations above the state standard for wild rice waters.
  • On July 28 and 29, water samples collected from the Mississippi River headwaters immediately downstream of several known frac outs showed relatively high concentrations of TSS, total phosphorus, oil and grease, total organic carbon, calcium and barium, compared to upstream samples.
  • Drilling fluid is now emplaced in the subsurface at all spill sites, and recent photos and videos indicate it’s likely being mobilized.

It’s hoped state regulatory agencies did their own water testing and those results will become public when the agencies finish their investigations.

Science for the People-Twin Cities has recommended state and federal regulatory agencies do rigorous and immediate water testing at these sites.

For full Science for the People analysis, click here.

Looking at future environmental damage in Wisconsin from Enbridge Line 5

Enbridge’s proposed reroute of Line 5. Image: Carl Sack

The contentious Enbridge Line 3 debate will get replayed in Wisconsin and Michigan with Enbridge Line 5.

Enbridge Line 5 is the eastern extension of Enbridge Line 3. Line 5 transports 22 million gallons of crude oil and natural gas liquids a day from Superior, Wisc., through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, under the Straits of Mackinac, ending in Sarnia, Ontario refineries.

Line 5 was built in 1953. It’s beyond its expected useful life. People are deeply concerned about crude oil spills from the aging pipeline.

Line 5 crosses the Bad River Reservation in northern Wisconsin. Its easements to cross tribal territory expired in 2013, according to a Sierra Club-Wisconsin Chapter summary.

The Band passed a resolution denying easement renewal and told Enbridge to remove its pipeline. Enbridge refused to comply and the issue is now in the courts.

Enbridge apparently is anticipating rerouting the pipeline around the Bad River Band’s reservation, which opens other areas to environmental damage, and it still threatens watersheds that feed into the Band’s territory.

2 thoughts on “MN environmental leaders press Walz to pull Line 3 permits, PA Attorney General sues pipeline company for ‘environmental crimes,’ and more

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