State and federal regulators continue to treat Enbridge with kid gloves, and other Line 3 news

In this blog:

  • With Line 3’s water damages still unaddressed, a growing call on state, federal authorities to hold Enbridge accountable
  • Support Ron Turney, Indigenous activist documenting ongoing environmental harm along Line 3
  • Truthout: Water Protectors fight trumped-up felony charges

Environmental groups call on state, federal authorities to hold Enbridge accountable for water damage during Line 3’s construction

Aquifer breach near Clearbrook. Photo: Ron Turney.

Honor the Earth and the Sierra Club are calling on state and federal watchdogs to take stronger actions to hold Enbridge accountable for the environmental damage during construction of its Line 3 tar sands pipeline.

Honor the Earth demands a federal Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) … A crime is being committed and we want a federal and/or state official or agency to stop Enbridge with a full EIS. The state of Minnesota and its agencies, the MPCA and DNR, have failed to adequately protect the waters and people of Minnesota, and the Anishinaabe. We have no idea how bad the damage is. We want clear answers and a clean-up. We call on the EPA and U.S. Army Corps to undertake an EIS.”  

Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth

Line 3 permit violations resulted in multiple problems. Some we’re still learning about.

A major aquifer breach occurred in January when workers dug deeper than approved plans allowed. Enbridge kept the aquifer breach hidden from state authorities until June. The DNR kept it from the public until September. Bottom line: The breach has released more than 24 million gallons of water. Enbridge has yet to fix it.

“The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources [DNR] required Enbridge to pay $3.32 million in fine and restoration costs in September for an aquifer breach,” the news release said. “Enbridge is now 18 days past the deadline set by DNR to clean up the public aquifer breach and has paid an additional $40,000 meant to compensate the state for lost groundwater. However, neither state nor federal agencies have taken action to reevaluate the company’s permits to operate Line 3 given these egregious violations.” [Emphasis added.]

The DNR has confirmed additional aquifer breeches have occurred but it hasn’t shared their locations or severity, the release said.

That leaves the public is in the dark.

A $40,000 fine doesn’t hold Enbridge accountable. Most likely it was cheaper for the company to violate the law and pay the pittance of a fine than to do the job correctly.

Then there are the frac outs. Enbridge used horizontal directional drilling (HDD) to tunnel under rivers and wetlands. The process requires a special mud to lubricate the drill. This process happens under pressure and the mud can get forced in subsoil cracks. That’s a frac out. Sometimes the mud rises to the surface, triggering a clean up. Sometimes the mud remains just below the surface, but still adding pollution in the watersheds.

Enbridge frac outs remain unaddressed, the news release said.

“During the course of construction of Line 3, Enbridge had dozens of spills of drilling fluid, polluting the water at more than 60% of their horizontal directional drilling sites,” it said. “Drilling fluid is known to contain numerous polluting chemicals, though the full list of chemicals in the mud is trade secret-protected. Despite the fact that these spills violated Enbridge’s permit from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, MPCA did not take any action to hold them accountable or revisit their permits.”

Support Ron Turney, Indigenous activist documenting ongoing environmental harm along Line 3

Drilling mud appears to continue to reach the surface right next to the Mississippi River. Photo: Ron Turney

Ron Turney, a Water Protector from the White Earth Nation, has been monitoring and documenting how Enbridge’s Line 3’s construction has damaged state wetlands, rivers, and aquifers.

Line 3 monitoring has dropped significantly since the pipeline went into operation. Turney has been documenting the Enbridge Line 3 “frac outs” since July and he continues to be an important presence. His work helps keep the pressure on state and federal regulators to do their job.

Check out his Facebook Page to raise money for new equipment. Donate what you can.

According to his page:

According to MN Statute 609.671 environmental crimes, Enbridge may have committed numerous FELONIES by their Failure to Report spills and accidents. I’ve forwarded my footage to MN Attorney General Keith Ellison and the Environmental Division to look into criminal charges.

Ron Turney

Truthout: Water Protectors fight trumped-up felony charges

Water protectors facing felony charges for Line 3 resistance say prosecutors are throwing the book at them to suppress dissent, according to an article in Truthout.

There have been at least 948 arrests of water protectors since November 2020, the story said. There are still 750 open misdemeanor cases and 90 open felony cases. Of the misdemeanor charges, 327 are gross misdemeanors, which could land defendants in jail for up to a year.

A legal support organizer said the felonies charges included “theft, fleeing in a motor vehicle, assault, obstructing legal process and, most bizarrely of all — aiding attempted suicide,” the story said. “This last charge, especially, activists say, reveals the extent to which prosecutors are desperately seeking to up charges.”

Check out the entire article.

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