PUC allows Enbridge to save hundreds of millions of dollars by shifting burden to future Minnesotans, and more

In this blog:

  • PUC allows Enbridge to save hundreds of millions of dollars by shoving future pipeline cleanup costs onto Minnesotans
  • Non violent treaty camp makes important statement, gets little media coverage
  • Help protect wild rice from mining pollution
  • This Day in History June 18, 1934: The Indian “New Deal” stops privatization of Indian lands
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Why don’t I trust Enbridge? Let me count the ways

Big month ahead, including major Line 3 court ruling

File: Gichi-gami Gathering to Stop Line 3 in Duluth.

Tribal nations and environmental and Indigenous-led groups have worked for years to stop Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 tars sands pipeline through northern Minnesota. Line 3 is bad for the environment, bad for climate, violates treaty rights and simply isn’t needed.

Enbridge is a multi-national, bottom-line company seeking to minimize its costs and maximize its profits. It prioritizes its profits over the environment, climate, and treaty rights.

Minnesota regulators shouldn’t have put their trust in Enbridge, let alone approved Line 3 permits. There are plenty of examples to show how Enbridge has lacked transparency and not been a reliable partner, both here and in other states.

Work on Line 3 has slowed in the past few months due to springtime construction restrictions. It’s now picking back up.

Water protectors and their allies are hosting the Treaty People Gathering up north from Saturday-Tuesday, with large-scale, non-violent civil disobedience being organized.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals will rule no later than June 21 on the first of three major legal challenges to Line 3 in state and federal courts. This first suit seeks to overturn Line 3’s Certificate of Need, Route Permit, and Environmental Impact Statement.

With a busy and important month ahead, I’m take this opportunity to review the red flags I’ve seen surrounding Enbridge and its Line 3 proposal.

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Enbridge reneges on its Landowner Choice Program, attorney for property owners says

PUC permits did nothing to hold the company accountable

When the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved the new and expanded Enbridge Line 3 pipeline in 2018, it let the company skate on its responsibility to clean up the old and deteriorating pipeline it was replacing.

It was going to cost Enbridge $1.2 billion to remove the old pipeline and do the necessary restoration work. It was a price the company did not want to pay.

Instead, Enbridge proposed abandoning the old Line 3 in the ground, widening its existing right-of-way, clear cutting more trees, and installing a new Line 3 in a brand new trench.

Line 3 critics opposed the proposal. At a basic level, they said Enbridge should follow the First Rule of Kindergarten: Clean up your old mess before making a new one. Further, if the PUC was as focused on job creation as it seems, requiring Enbridge to remove the old pipeline would create 50 percent of the jobs as the new Line 3 construction work.

Instead, Enbridge proposed the Landowner Choice Program, which would give property owners the choice between 1) having the old pipeline removed or 2) taking a one-time payment to leave it in the ground. (Essentially, it incentivized landowners to take a short-term gain and pass the pipeline problem to future owners.)

As it did on most issues, the PUC sided with Enbridge. It approved Line 3 permits with the understanding that Enbridge could file the details of the Landowner Choice Program later. The PUC included no accountability measures or sanctions in the Line 3 Certificate of Need should the company fail to live up to its promises.

Landowners are now saying Enbridge is shirking on its obligations and petitioning the PUC for help.

It’s just the latest example of the state’s flawed regulatory system that seems to favor corporations over residents. Specifically, it raises questions about why the PUC is so chummy and trusting with Enbridge.

Enbridge has not only been disrespectful of Indigenous treaty rights, but also the promises it made to landowners of any race or background who own land along the line.

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Pushing Back on the PUC, Part II: State Agencies Criticize Enbridge Line 3 Promises, Seek Changes

This is the second in a series that will review responses to Enbridge’s last-minute promises to improve its Line 3 pipeline project. The PUC adopted these with no pubic scrutiny. This blog looks at the responses from state agencies. The last blog will look at responses from Friends of the Headwaters.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) allowed Enbridge to change its proposal after the official record had closed. Specifically, the PUC accepted Enbridge’s deal sweeteners and voted to approve them without giving regulators or the public a chance to review and critique them.

While Enbridge’s promises might look good on paper that’s no guarantee they will deliver.

In today’s blog, we look at the many questions and concerns raised by state agencies involved with project oversight: the Minnesota Department of Commerce (DOC), the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

These responses show just how little thought Commissioners gave Enbridge’s proposals before giving them the green light.

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Pushing Back on the PUC, Part I: Ojibwe Bands Criticize Enbridge’s Rushed Pipeline Promises

This is the first in a series that will review responses to Enbridge’s last-minute promises on its Line 3 pipeline project. The PUC adopted these with no pubic scrutiny. This blog looks at the responses from Native Nations. The next blogs will look at responses from state agencies and an environmental group.

In late June, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) was entering its final deliberations on the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline. The debate spanned years, including public hearings, an environmental impact statement, and recommendations from an administrative law judge. With a final vote imminent, the PUC changed the rules. It allowed Enbridge to change its proposal after the official record had closed. The PUC accepted Enbridge’s deal sweeteners and voted to approve them without giving regulators or the public a chance to review and critique them.

While Enbridge’s promises might look good on paper that’s no guarantee they will deliver.

Now, predictably, many parties — tribal nations, state agencies and an environmental group — have filed responses to the PUC seeking significant changes. These responses show just how little thought the Commissioners gave to Enbridge’s proposals before giving them the green light. In particular, Enbridge gave no consideration to indigenous rights. While perhaps it’s not surprising that Enbridge tried to game the system, it is disappointing that the PUC went along with it, one more example of its flawed process.

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