For a crude oil pipeline carrying 760,000 barrels a day, a “pinhole leak” is bigger than it sounds

Enbridge Line 3 could spill up to 7,600 barrels a day without triggering leak sensors

One of the difficulties writing about the proposed Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline is that one gets buried by thousands of pages of documents, much more than most people have the time to read. There’s testimony, briefing papers, the environmental impact statement, administrative law judge analysis, permit applications, permit decisions, legal appeals … you get the picture.

There are many important stories hidden in these documents. I haven’t scratched the surface. I depend on people who have done the deep dive, people like Nicolette Slagle, Honor the Earth’s research director. She put me onto the “pinhole leak” story. It sounds small enough until you get into the details.

Honor the Earth and its consultant CJE did important work pointing out flaws in Enbridge’s pinhole leak analysis. Stunningly, state regulators failed to acknowledge any of them in Line 3’s final environmental impact statement.

This story is too late to affect change in the Line 3 environmental impact statemenet. But it raises larger questions about state regulators’ ability to effectively review future proposals of similar harmful projects.

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Honor the Earth denounces MN Supreme Court action for failing to protect indigenous rights

The Minnesota Supreme Court today declined to review a case that could have required the state to complete a traditional cultural property survey before it could permit large construction projects such as the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline.

“We are profoundly disappointed that the Minnesota Supreme Court felt more interested in siding with the rights of a Canadian corporation to proceed with a high-risk project than protecting the rights of the Minnesota Anishinabe and indigenous people and the rights of nature,” Winona LaDuke, Co-founder and Executive Director of Honor the Earth said in a statement. Continue reading

Protecting our Sacred Water: A Gathering at the Headwaters, and other events

Photo: Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light.

You are invited to “Protecting our Sacred Water: A Gathering at the Headwaters” at Lake Itasca State Park, on the weekend of September 21-22.

As part of a global week of climate action, Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light and Honor the Earth will once again bring an interfaith voice to the environmental justice movement. Join us for our second year at the Headwaters of the Mississippi River for a community gathering and prayer circle to honor the sacredness of water. We’ll learn about Treaty Rights, pipeline routes, language and culture, and more. The weekend will culminate with a prayer circle at the Mississippi Headwaters in which leaders from every major faith tradition will affirm the sacred nature of water and our moral commitment to protecting life, and saying no Line 3.

Details on the Facebook Event Page. RSVP here. More events follow.

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Enbridge admits Line 3 construction can’t meet all state environmental standards for protecting water

So why is the project still under consideration?

The proposed Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline will run 340 miles through northern Minnesota, crossing more than 200 water bodies and 75 miles of wetlands. It also threatens wild rice areas important to the Anishinaabe.

Stunningly, Enbridge already has admitted to state regulators that pipeline construction won’t meet state environmental standards for protecting water. Adding to the problem, Enbridge hasn’t provided details about which environmental standards it plans to disregard or where. Instead, Enbridge has provided generalities which essentially boil down to: “Trust us.”

Sadly, the “Trust Us” argument appears to have traction among state regulators, another example of the power imbalance favoring industry in the state’s regulatory system. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) seemed to have ample trust in Enbridge, approving the project last year over many objections. For instance, it ignored Anishinaabe bands’ claims to treaty rights to hunt, fish, and gather on lands and waters threatened by Line 3.

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Enbridge is Pulling a Bait-and-Switch — Will the PUC Finally Take a Stand?

Enbridge — the Canadian company that wants to run a tar sands crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota’s pristine waters and wild rice areas — is getting away with the old bait-and-switch move.

Late last spring, Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline proposal looked like it was in trouble. The company made a last-minute pr move, promising to contribute $100 million to a “Tribal Economic Opportunity and Labor Education Plan” if the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved the project.

And with no details, the PUC bought it hook, line, and sinker.

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MN Dept. of Commerce Joins Appeal Against Enbridge Line 3, Protest at Line 3 Storage Yard, and More

More than 50 pipeline resisters met at this pipeline storage yard in a Carlton County gravel pit Thursday to call on the state to halt all Line 3 construction and pre-construction activities until all Line 3 reviews are complete. Enbridge has several such storage yards around the state that don’t have appropriate permits.

Governor Mark Dayton came out today against the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota, backing a legal challenge by the Minnesota Department of Commerce to overturn the decision of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

Members of MN350, the Youth Climate Intervenors and the Sierra Club stopped by Gov. Dayton’s office today to thank his staff for his support of the Line 3 appeal.

In a decision that didn’t seem to line up with the facts, the PUC voted this summer to grant Line 3 a Certificate of Need and a Route permit. Line 3 will add significantly to climate damage and violate treaty rights. Oil spills from Line 3 could damage the Mississippi River and our clean lakes and streams. The evidence shows Minnesota doesn’t need this pipeline; it will only serve to help Canada’s foreign export efforts.

Indigenous and environmental groups have been pushing Dayton to take a stand against Line 3 for more than a year. Now 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.

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PUC Staff Oversteps Authority, Shows Bias Against Pipeline Resisters

News reports often highlight when water protectors disrupt the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) meetings or Enbridge Line 3 public hearings; they have not covered the bias and disrespect PUC staff has shown to water protectors. Those actions have undermined trust in the institution and its credibility.

This bias and disrespect needs to be called out. Continue reading