The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted June 29, 2018, to approve construction of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands crude oil pipeline through 340 miles of northern Minnesota. The vote was a bitter disappointment to water protects and those concerned about Minnesota’s pristine lands and indigenous rights.
On Dec. 13, 2018, the PUC took its last procedural vote on the matter, denying a request to reconsider its approval of the new Line 3 route. There are still several opportunities to stop Line 3.
Groups recognized as official intervenors before the PUC had the challenge the PUC’s decision before the Minnesota Court of Appeals. The PUC’s decision has several weaknesses, leaving strong options for appeal. The PUC:
- Rejected the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s argument that Enbridge failed to meet state laws requiring the company to prove a new Line was needed based on crude oil demand.
- Rejected information in Line 3’s environmental impact statement saying the new Line 3 would create $287 billion in climate damage over three decades.
- Refused to acknowledge that treaty rights remained an open and legitimate issue.
- Rejected the clear conclusion from the Administrative Law Judge reviewing the case that it should not approve Enbridge’s preferred route because the costs outweighed the benefits.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce filed an appeal, the Friends of the Headwaters filed an appeal, and the Youth Climate Intervenors filed an appeal. The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, Honor the Earth and the Sierra Club filed a joint appeal.
Indigenous and environmental groups pushed Gov. Mark Dayton to take a stand against Line 3 for more than a year. In his final weeks in office, Dayton took a very positive step to stop this unnecessary project. According to his news release, he said:
“I strongly support my Commerce Department’s appeal of the Public Utilities Commission’s Order.“Enbridge failed to provide a future demand forecast for its product, which is required by state law. Instead, the company presented its analysis of the future oil supply from Canadian tar sands extractions. It failed to demonstrate that Minnesota needs this pipeline to meet our future oil demand. In fact, most of the product would flow through our state to supply other states and countries.
Newly elected Gov. Tim Walz did not immediately commit to continuing with the lawsuit, wanting his staff to review it. On Feb. 12, 2019, the administration announced the Department of Commerce appeal would continue. “As I often say, projects like these don’t only need a building permit to go forward, they also need a social permit. Our Administration has met with groups on all sides of this issue, and Minnesotans deserve clarity, Walz said.
Line 3 also still needs more than two dozen permits before it can start construction. One key permit is a Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Section 401 Permit allowing Line 3 to cross water bodies — and Line 3 crosses many. The new Line 3 would cross the Mississippi River — twice, including the headwaters — as well as affect many nearby lakes and streams. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers also has to approve similar water crossing permits. We must put pressure on the state and the MPCA to apply the highest environmental protection standards.
Who is Enbridge? Enbridge is a large energy transportation business with several tar sands crude oil pipelines running through Minnesota. Enbridge has a poor safety track record. Notably, it was responsible for a 2010 pipeline rupture that spilled more than one million gallons of heavy tar sands crude oil into a tributary of the Kalamazoo River, according to Wikipedia. Its impact was felt 25 miles down river. By 2014, the cleanup costs topped $1.2 billion. The largest inland oil spill in U.S. history happened on Enbridge Line 3 near Grand Rapids, Minn., and would have been much worse but it happened in winter when the ground and rivers were frozen.
What’s the Problem? The current Enbridge Line 3 is failing. It wants to install a new and larger pipeline through northern Minnesota along a new route, cutting through the Mississippi headwaters region as well as prime wild rice areas. Canadian tar sands mining deforests land, pollutes air and water, and does great harm to indigenous communities. Minnesota’s environmental impact statement said the tar sands pumped through the proposed Line 3 would create $287 billion in “social costs to carbon” over the next 30 years. That reflects climate change costs to agriculture, human health, increased flooding, etc. That is a huge price to pay, especially considering the United States already is a net exporter of refined petroleum. We do not need this pipeline for our energy security. The Minnesota section of the pipeline violates treaty rights and creates unnecessary environmental risks from pipeline ruptures.
Key Public Documents:
- Environmental Impact Statement: The PUC approved the final environmental impact statement Feb. 12, 2018.
- Administrative Law Judge Report on Line 3’s Certificate of Need and Route Permit: The report rejects Enbridge’s preferred route, based on a cost-benefit analysis. It leaves open the possibility of removing the existing Line 3 and rebuilding in the same trench. This would mean Line 3 continues to cross the Leech Lake and Fond du Lac reservations, a move opposed by tribes. It also would add more than $1 billion in costs to Enbridge. This option seems like a non starter.
- State Rules the PUC is supposed to use in evaluating the project.
- PUC Staff Recommendations
- PUC Website for Line 3
- E-Dockets Website (Search by Year = 14, Number = 916)
- PUC Staff Recommendations for Line 3, June 8, 2018
- Enbridge’s Tribal Economic Opportunity Plan, August 2018
- Honor the Earth’s Appeal of the Environmental Impact Statement, Aug. 8, 2018
- Friends of the Headwaters Appeal of the Environmental Impact Statement, Aug. 10, 2018
- Red Lake, White Earth, Fond du Lac and Mile Lacs Bands Appeal of the Environmental Impact Statement, Aug. 10, 2018
- PUC Order Approving Line 3 Certificate of Need, Sept. 5, 2018
- Enbridge’s Response to Request to Make Public its Insurance Coverage, Sept. 20, 2018
- Enbridge’s Application for State and Federal Water Body Crossing Permits, September, 2018
- Enbridge’s Anti-Degradation Assessment for its Water Crossing Permits, October, 2018
- Enbridge’s Worst Case Spill Analysis, Oct. 16, 2018
- PUC’s Approved Route Permit, Oct. 28, 2018
- Friends of the Headwaters Appeal of Line 3 Decision, Dec. 20, 2018
- White Earth, Red Lake, Honor the Earth, Sierra Club Joint Appeal of Line 3, Dec. 20, 2018
- MN Dept. of Commerce Line 3 Appeal, Dec. 21, 2019
- Youth Climate Intervenors’ Line 3 Appeal, Dec. 21, 2019
- PUC Order Approving Enbridge’s Modifications, Jan. 23, 2019
Below are resources to help you understand the proposal and why it is a bad idea for Minnesota.
Honor the Earth
- Honor the Earth Line 3 highlights
- Honor the Earth’s EIS Guide
- Support Tribal Environmental Impact Statement for Line 3 (Honor the Earth)
- Line 3 Abandonment Fact Sheet (Honor the Earth)
- Beyond DAPL: The Line 3 Battles Looms on the Horizon
- What is Line 3?
- Enbridge Line 3 Fact Sheet
Sierra Club North Star Chapter
- Tar Sands Fact Sheet
- Line 3 Fact Sheet
- Line 3 and Energy Security
- Line 3 and Treaty Rights Fact Sheet
Healing Minnesota Stories Blogs on Line 3 and related topics
March 4, 2019: In Approving Major Crude Oil Pipelines, Consulting with Native Nations is Not Enough; the Goal is Consent
March 2, 2019: Construction of Enbridge Line 3 Delayed At Least One Year
Feb. 24, 2019: Minnesota Law Enforcement Already Coordinating with Enbridge to Respond to Line 3 Protests, Report Says
Feb. 12, 2019: Walz Administration to Continue Legal Challenge Against Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline
Feb. 8, 2019: At Critical Juncture, Faith Leaders Call on Gov. Walz to Stop Enbridge Line 3
Feb. 6, 2019: Line 3 Updates: Rep. Ilhan Omar Opposes Pipeline; Facebook Shuts Down Direct Action Group’s Page
Feb. 5, 2019: Four Arrested in Northern MN for Pipeline Tampering and Other News and Events
Jan. 30, 2019: Enbridge is Pulling a Bait-and-Switch — Will the PUC Finally Take a Stand?
Jan. 16, 2019: Call Gov. Walz, Tell Him to Support Lawsuit to Stop Enbridge Line 3
Jan. 10, 2019: Gov. Walz Administration Reconsidering Enbridge Line 3 Lawsuit; Pipeline Resisters Organizing Peaceful Inaugural Response
Jan. 5, 2019: Questions and Criticisms Abound in Enbridge Line 3’s ‘Tribal Economic Opportunity’ Plan
Dec. 21, 2019: MN Dept. of Commerce Joins Appeal Against Enbridge Line 3, Protest at Line 3 Storage Yard, and More
Dec. 17, 2019: PUC Staff Oversteps Authority, Shows Bias Against Pipeline Resisters
Dec. 12, 2018: MN350 Launches Rapid Action Team to Keep Pressure On Enbridge Line 3
Nov. 27, 2018: Water Protectors Expose Hidden Line 3 Pipeyard Near Fond du Lac Reservation, Erect Tipi to Stop Offloading Trucks
Nov. 20, 2018: After Line 3 Vote, Two PUC Commissioners Appear at Comedy Improv Theater, Curtain Falls Early
Nov. 19, 2018: PUC Casts Final Pro Pipeline Vote: Line 3 Opposition Now Heads to the Courts, Streets, Camps, Pulpits, and Gov. Walz’s Office
Nov. 15, 2018: As Key Enbridge Line 3 Vote Looms Monday, Encouraging News in Other Pipeline Resistance Efforts
Oct. 31, 2018: Youth Rally Against Climate Change, Promise Legal Challenge to Line 3 Crude Oil Pipeline
Oct. 18, 2018: Enbridge’s Oil Spill Analysis Not Credible, Ignores Tribal Impacts, Appears Intentionally Confusing
Oct. 9, 2018: Climate Change Report Makes it Urgent the PUC Reverses Vote to Approve the Line 3 Oil Pipeline; Judge Tosses Valve Turner Case
Oct. 5, 2018: The PUC Fog Machine: Commission Selectively Uses Line 3’s Environmental Analysis, Favoring Enbridge
Oct. 2, 2018: Legal Challenges Take Shape Against Line 3 and the PUC’s Anti-Indian, Anti-Environment Vote
Sept. 27, 2018: PUC Final Order Approving Line 3 is Racist
Sept. 26, 2018: Strib: MN Commerce Dept. Asks the PUC to Reverse Its Ruling and Deny Enbridge Line 3 Permits
Sept. 23, 2018: Enbridge Opposes Request to Make Public its Insurance Coverage for Major Oil Spill Cleanups in Minnesota
Sept. 11, 2018: Protests Shut Down PUC Meeting on Enbridge Line 3
Sept. 7, 2018: Enbridge Uses “Trade Secret” Tag to Hide Inadequate Spill Insurance; Honor the Earth Tries to Bring it to Light.
Sept. 2, 2018: Fond du Lac Band Chairman Explains Decision to Allow New Oil Pipeline to Cross Reservation Lands.
Aug. 31, 2018: Fond du Lac OK’s Line 3 Crossing its Lands; Commerce Continues Criticism of Enbridge’s Liability Insurance
Aug. 30, 2018: Water Protectors Ask You To Call Gov. Dayton to Stop Line 3!
Aug. 13, 2018: Commerce: Enbridge’s Oil Spill Insurance Inadequate for Line 3 and Mainline System
Aug. 12, 2018: Honor the Earth Files First Legal Challenge to PUC Approval of Enbridge Line 3
Aug. 10, 2018: With Proverbial Gun to its Head, PUC Turns Gun on Fond Du Lac Band Instead
Aug. 5, 2018: Pushing Back on the PUC, Part III: Friends of the Headwaters Finds Gaping Holes in Enbridge’s Promises
Aug. 4, 2018: Pushing Back on the PUC, Part II: State Agencies Criticize Enbridge Line 3 Promises, Seek Changes
Aug. 3, 2018: Pushing Back on the PUC, Part I: Ojibwe Bands Criticize Enbridge’s Rushed Pipeline Promises
July 23, 2018: Enbridge Tries to Bamboozle the PUC, Minnesota’s Dept. of Commerce Pushes Back
July 20, 2018: The Battle of Hayes Pond; The Battle of Bayou Bridge; and Enbridge’s Fingerprints on Minnesota Pipeline Regulations
July 18, 2018: PUC Adds Conditions to Enbridge’s Line 3 Approval, But Only Those Acceptable to Enbridge
July 12, 2018: Episcopal Church Takes a Stand Opposing Line 3
July 12, 2018: Indigenous Prayer Camp in Canada Opposes Line 3; Kinder Morgan Pipeline, Oil Tanker Traffic, Threatens Orcas
July 6, 2018: Eighteen Criticisms of the PUC’s Approval of the Enbridge Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline
July 1, 2018: Water Protectors Rally Outside Gov. Dayton’s Mansion
June 29, 2018: Tell Governor Dayton it’s Time to Take a Stand on Line 3: Action Planned this Sunday
June 28, 2018: PUC Buckles to Enbridge Threats, Nears Approval for Enbridge Line 3
June 28, 2018: PUC Discusses Protests After Line 3 Vote, Police Response and Sex Trafficking
June 27, 2018: Eroding Public Trust, PUC Staff Has Police Evict Sierra Club, MN 350 Staff from Line 3 Hearing without Justification
June 27, 2018: Four Takeaways from Day 3 of PUC Line 3 Hearings
June 19, 2018: Enbridge Line 3 Gets Late Backing from U.S. DOT; Honor the Earth Starts ‘Welcome Water Protectors’ Campaign
June 18, 2018: PUC Opens Final Line 3 Debate: State Remains Firm that Pipeline Isn’t Needed; Enbridge Adds More Concessions
June 12, 2018: PUC Staff Recommends Approving Line 3 Pipeline Along Enbridge’s Preferred Route
June 11, 2018: Judge Takes Sides in Line 3’s Treaty Rights Debate When She Should Have Stayed Neutral
June 5, 2018: Religious Leaders Speak Out Against Enbridge Line 3 as Vote Looms this Month
June 2, 2018: A Desperate Enbridge Plays “We Care About Indians” Card, Motives Seem Suspect
June 1, 2018: Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe: Reject Enbridge Line 3’s Certificate of Need and Route Permit
May 31, 2018: News Updates: Faith Leaders Stepping Up to Oppose Line 3; U.S. Crude Exports Hit Record High; and More
May 30, 2018: Structural Bias in PUC Review Process of Line 3 Favors Enbridge
May 27, 2018: Leech Lake Band Opposes Option to Keep Line 3 Pipeline in the Same Trench
May 26, 2018: DNR Comments on Line 3 Report Raise Additional Environmental Concerns
May 23, 2018: Commerce Department Makes Strong Case Against Line 3, Pushes Back on Judge’s Criticism
May 20, 2018: Block (Line 3) Party at the PUC: An Act of Celebration and Resistance
May 15, 2018: PUC Sets Line 3 Deliberation Dates; Come to Block (Line 3) Party This Weekend!
May 13, 2018: Enbridge’s Credibility Takes Major Hit in Judge’s Line 3 Report; PUC Must Reject Project
May 9, 2018: Enbridge’s “Safety” Argument to Build a New Line 3 is as Flawed as its Pipeline
May 8, 2018: Enbridge is a Decade Away from a Lease Crisis in Minnesota; Line 3 Reroute is its Escape Hatch
May 3, 2018: Enbridge Hit with $1.8 Million Fine for Crude Oil Pipeline Inspection Failings
May 1, 2018: Enbridge’s Secret: It Has Easements Allowing for More Pipelines in the New Corridor
April 25, 2018: MPR Continues to Disappoint in its Enbridge Line 3 Coverage
April 24, 2018: Enbridge Stock Prices Fall Following Line 3 Recommendations; Judge Calls For Something Closer to a True “Replacement Project”
April 23, 2018: Line 3 Recommendations Puts Burden to Stop Line 3 Squarely on the Ojibwe
April 13, 2018: Enbridge Line 3 Facebook Ad Omits Important Stuff
March 24, 2018: Two Bad Pro-Pipeline Bills Up for Hearing This Week in the MN Legislature
March 20, 2018: MPR Buys Into Enbridge Line 3 Spin that Climate Change is Just Too Confusing
March 18, 2018: Red Lake Nation Votes to Evict Enbridge Pipelines; Native Youth to Visit Pope, Ask Him to Repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery
March 13, 2018: Line 3 Abandonment: Enbridge Wants to Leave its Mess for Someone Else to Clean Up
March 2, 2018: MN Human Rights Commissioner: State Needs to Listen to Indigenous Concerns About Crude Oil Pipeline
January 15, 2018: Red Lake: Back to Square One with Enbridge Pipeline Trespass
January 9, 2018: Ojibwe Push PUC to Delay Key Line 3 Vote Until Historic Properties Review is Done
Nov. 25, 2017: Enbridge Updates: Problems in Minnesota, Problems in Michigan
Nov. 21, 2017: PUC to Vote Thursday, Dec. 7 on Line 3’s Environmental Impact Statement
Nov. 20, 2017: Bad News, Good News on Keystone XL
Nov. 20, 2017: Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline Storage Yards Appear to Violate Law, MPCA Approved Them with No Scrutiny
Nov. 18, 2017: Deck is Stacked Against Water Protectors
Nov. 2, 2017: U.S. Bank Pulls Enbridge Line of Credit, Line 3 Opponents Say
Nov. 2, 2017: Disappointment: Conservative Judge Rules Enbridge Line 3 EIS “Adequate”
Oct. 27, 2017: When Does Video Game Violence Cross the Line? Apparently When it is Violence Against Pipelines
Oct. 24, 2017: MN Dept. of Commerce Reaffirms Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline is not Needed
Oct. 2, 2017: What are the Risks of a Line 3 Tar Sands Crude Oil Spill? Government Analysis Fails to Give Clear Answers
Sept. 30, 2017: Tar Sands Pipeline Opponents Rally, March, and Pack the Hearing; Line 3 Backers Offer Easily Refuted Arguments
Sept. 27, 2017: Native Youth Interrupt Governor’s Water Quality Town Hall; Dayton Promises Private Meeting, But Still Neutral on Line 3
Sept. 26, 2017: Business Lobby Ad Buy Tries to Put Clean Face on Pipeline’s Dirty Tar Sands Crude; It Fails
Sept. 26, 2017: Commerce Offers Rushed and Incomplete Responses to Draft EIS Criticisms
Sept. 21, 2017: Ways You Can Support Minnesota Water Protector Camps; Enbridge’s Latest Safety Problem; Island Returned to Grand Portage Anishinaabe
Sept. 20, 2017: Enbridge Tries to Sneak a Line 3 Expansion Through Under the Guise of a Replacement Project
Sept. 12, 2017: Dayton Remains Noncommital on Tar Sands Pipeline — Keep the Pressure On!
Sept. 11, 2017: Minnesota Dept. of Commerce: Enbridge Has Not Established Need for the Tar Sands Pipeline; Risks Outweigh Benefits
Sept. 10, 2017: Environmental Analysis of Tar Sands Pipeline Fails on Readability, Citizen Engagement
Sept. 7, 2017: Does Minnesota Need a New Tar Sands Pipeline? Commerce Ducks Critical Question in EIS
Sept. 5, 2017: Commerce Takes Enbridge Assumption as Fact, Low Balls Impact of New Tar Sands Pipeline
Sept. 3, 2017: Line 3 Update: Paddle to Protect Youth Complete 250-Mile Journey; Petition Needs Your Signature; The Big Sandy Lake “Tragedy”; Pipeline Work in Minnesota?
Aug, 30, 2017: News: Knights of the Forest Were Minnesota’s KKK; Line 3 Pipeline Direct Non-Violent Action
Aug. 24, 2017: Line 3 Updates: Protest Temporarily Halts Construction in WI; Hearing Monday
Aug. 18, 2017: Deeply Flawed Environmental Analysis of Tar Sands Pipeline Needs to Go Back to Square One
Aug. 17, 2017: Red Lake Nation Asks Governor Dayton to Delay Release of EIS on Enbridge Line 3
Aug. 16, 2017: Tribal Liaison For Enbridge Line 3 Quits State Job, Cites Minnesota’s Lack of “Good Faith” Effort
Aug. 11, 2017: Water Protector Updates from Minnesota to Maine; Burial Site on Fond du Lac Disturbed; Another Public Art Controversy … And More
Aug. 7, 2017: Congress Needs to Investigate Corporate Influence on Law Enforcement’s DAPL Response
July 29, 2017: Keystone XL Developer Waffling on Project, and other Weekend Reading
July 28, 2017: In Show of Hubris, Enbridge Starts Tar Sands Pipeline Work Well in Advance of Minnesota Approvals
July 27, 2017: FYI Water Protectors: Governor Dayton is Holding Water Quality Town Hall Meetings
July 5, 2017: One More Reason Why We Don’t Need More Canadian Tar Sands Crude Pumped Through Minnesota
July 5, 2017: MPR Tar Sands Pipeline Story Flawed, Slanted
July 1, 2015: A Pipeline Tour and Visit to Turtle Island Camp
June 30, 2017: Only 10 Days Left to Comment on Tar Sands Pipeline EIS; What We Learned from the Bemidji Hearing
June 27, 2017: Report: Tar Sands Tailing Ponds Hold Hidden Costs, a Legacy of Cancer Risks
June 26, 2017: Reminder: Teach-In Tonight on Proposed Tar Sands Pipeline Expansion in Minnesota
June 22, 2017: Line 3 Teach In: Learn about Proposed Tar Sands Pipeline through Northern Minnesota and What You Can Do to Stop it!
June 15, 2017: Hundreds Opposed to Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline Flood St. Paul Public Hearing
June 10, 2017: Enbridge Line 3: White Earth Spirit Camp Forms; Upcoming Events
June 6, 2017: Honor the Earth, Other Groups, Add New Education Resources to Stop Line 3
June 4, 2017: Next Sacred Sites Tour June 24; Update on Enbridge Line 3; and Trump’s Review of National Monuments
May 31, 2017: Your Help Needed to Stop Enbridge Line 3, Public Comment Period Now Open
May 23, 2017: Enbridge: Corporate Social Responsibility or Greenwashing?
May 22, 2017: “Environmental Justice” Analysis of Proposed Crude Oil Pipeline is Flawed, Lacks Native Voices
May 20, 2017: Efforts to Stop Tar Sands Pipeline Through Northern Minnesota Enter New Phase
April 7, 2017: Gov. Dayton Needs to Veto Deeply Flawed Energy Bill that Fast Tracks Enbridge Line 3
March 27, 2017: Stop Enbridge Line 3 — Minnesota’s Version of the Dakota Access Pipeline
March 24, 2017: Is Water Sacred or a Commodity? How We Answer That Question Will Define Our Future
March 17, 2017: When Simply Wearing “Water is Life” Becomes a Threatening Protest
March 9, 2017: U.S. State Department an Embarrassment at Tar Sands Meeting; Other News Updates
Jan. 12, 2017: Minnesota Chippewa Tribe Doing Its Own Environmental Impact Statement for Northern MN Pipeline
Jan. 3, 2017: Minnesota Faces its Own Pipeline Battle: Enbridge Line 3