Understanding the Regulatory/Industrial Complex’s ‘Pipeline Playbook’

File: Line 3 construction

The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), Enbridge Line 3 in Minnesota, Enbridge Line 5 in Wisconsin and Michigan, and other crude oil pipelines have had, or continue to have, controversial paths towards approval.

With the exception of Keystone XL, corporate interests have won out over strong public resistance and weak regulatory oversight. 

Pipeline firms have got the go-ahead on massive infrastructure projects in spite of their their treaty violations, their troubling track records, and their long-term environmental costs, including their significant climate damage.

The Regulatory/Industrial Complex has a Pipeline Playbook that needs to be named and called out.

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DNR lacks transparency in holding Enbridge accountable for Line 3’s environmental damage

To those Wisconsin and Michigan residents worried about construction of the Enbridge Line 5 tar sands pipeline: Beware the aquifer breaches and monitor any dewatering permit. Let your state regulators know about the company’s track record and that you expect a stronger state response than what happened in Minnesota.

Here, Enbridge violated state permits where Line 3 construction crews broke through aquifers in three places. In all, these breaches released at least 285 million gallons of groundwater.

We’re only now learning the extent of the damage that occurred last fall. Until this week, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has withheld even basic information on two of the three breaches, such as their locations and extent of groundwater loss.

It’s only the latest example of how Minnesota’s regulatory system is set up to help large corporations like Enbridge rather than serve the public interest.

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EPA raises red flags on Enbridge Line 5’s environmental and tribal impacts

Minnesota DNR belatedly provides new information on Line 3 aquifer breeches

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had raised a number of warnings about Enbridge’s plan to replace its Line 5 tar sands pipeline, including the pipeline’s impact on water quality and Native nations.

The pipeline would run through the watershed that feeds into the Kakagon-Bad River Slough Complex, which abuts Lake Superior. It’s an environmentally sensitive area: 10,760 acres of mostly undeveloped sloughs, bogs, and coastal lagoons, critical to the lake’s health.

For instance, the area harbors “the largest natural wild rice bed on the Great Lakes,” according to the Ramsar International Treaty. “[T]hese wild rice beds are becoming increasingly fragmented on Lake Superior – as the only remaining extensive coastal wild rice bed in the Great Lakes region, it is critical to ensuring the genetic diversity of Lake Superior wild rice.”

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Federal government requires MPCA to enforce wild rice protections, overriding state laws

The environmental group WaterLegacy and the Fond du Lac and Grand Portage Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa scored a major victory to enforce state water quality rules that protect wild rice.

It’s a huge ruling. It should affect the MPCA’s oversight of existing projects, such as the MinnTac Mine (which has never complied with wild rice water quality standards). It should affect the MPCA’s review of projects in the queue, such as the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine.

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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
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Law enforcement costs top $1.6 million for their presence during the August ‘Treaties Not Tar Sands’ rally at the Capitol

On Aug. 27, the day following the four-day ‘Treaty Not Tar Sands’ rally, law enforcement turned out en masse to evict anyone who hadn’t left. Photo: Maggie Schuppert

[Note: This updates an Oct. 26 post with new information. The Oct. 26 post has been taken down.]

Minnesota state government spent $1.6 million in law enforcement, concrete barricades, and chain link fencing to “protect” the Capitol during the Treaties Not Tars Sands event, Aug. 23-27, according to data provided by the Department of Administration and the Department of Public Safety (DPS).

Seven other agencies responded to DPS’s request for aid. Their costs are not included in that figure.

It’s another chapter in excessive policing of water protectors. It stands in stark contrast to the state’s lax response to Enbridge’s permit violations and the environmental damage done during construction of the Line 3 tar sands pipeline through northern Minnesota.

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State spent $100,000 for Capitol barricades during ‘Treaties Not Tar Sands’ rally and unknown law enforcement costs

This post has been taken down as it was out of date. For the most recent information, see: Law enforcement costs top $1.6 million for their presence during the August ‘Treaties Not Tar Sands’ rally at the Capitol

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
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