The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) should reject Enbridge’s Line 3 proposal based on the biased and self-serving arguments Enbridge used during the regulatory review process. Minnesota needs credible partners in such major infrastructure projects.
Administrative Law Judge Ann O’Reilly’s Line 3 report to the PUC identifies several key areas where Enbridge’s flawed arguments undercut its credibility as an honest broker of information.
On the surface, O’Reilly’s report was something of a head scratcher, proposing an unpopular and unworkable option. She recommends taking the old pipeline out of its current trench and installing the new pipeline in the same trench.
Enbridge wants to open a new pipeline corridor. It knows it won’t get permission from Leech Lake or Fond du Lac to run a new line through their reservations. Enbrige also wants to avoid the extra costs of removing the old pipeline, a bill it places at $1.2 billion. On the other side, the tribes don’t like O’Reilly’s recommendation. They not only want the pipelines off reservation land, but off the treaty territory where they have reserved rights to hunt, fish and gather.
O’Reillly’s recommendation seems to leave the PUC in the lurch.
Yet dig into O’Reilly’s report and you find damaging criticism of Enbridge’s testimony. First, Enbridge failed to adequately assess the environmental damage that its proposed new Line 3 corridor would create and ignores the culture impacts the project would have on the Anishinaabe people. Second, she disputes key parts of Enbridge’s expert testimony on the demand for crude oil — the essential facts the company needs to justify building a new pipeline. Lastly, she questions Enbridge’s credibility on the arguments it used to avoid having to pay to remove the old pipeline.
The PUC needs to take these credibility issues to heart. It is expected to vote on Line 3 in June.