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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Legal Challenges Take Shape Against Line 3 and the PUC’s Anti-Indian, Anti-Environment Vote

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC’s) deeply flawed decision approving the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota likely will get challenged in court. Some of the legal arguments against the PUC are now coming into focus.

Seven organizations and tribal governments filed motions asking the PUC to reconsider its vote approving Line 3’s Certificate of Need. The Minnesota Department of Commerce’s motion says the PUC’s decision: “contains legal errors and ambiguities.” The Youth Climate Intervenors’ motion said that: “The Commission’s explicit denial of climate science and wholesale dismissal of treaty rights as ‘unnecessary’ are appalling.” A joint motion by Honor the Earth, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, and the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, said the PUC’s order: “fails to interpret state law to favor the public interest and protect the environment as against private interests.”

It’s doubtful the PUC will budge and reverse its vote, but this is a necessary procedural step to allow Line 3 opponents to sue in court. The legal arguments contained in these motions could form the basis for future lawsuits. If this issue does go to court, the PUC will have a lot of explaining to do about why it consistently favored Enbridge and ignored public testimony and the administrative law judge’s independent recommendations.

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Strib: MN Commerce Dept. Asks the PUC to Reverse Its Ruling and Deny Enbridge Line 3 Permits

Breaking news from the Star Tribune: Minnesota Commerce Department asks utility regulators to vacate Enbridge’s approval for Line 3. It starts out:

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has asked state utility regulators to vacate their decision to grant Enbridge a permit for a controversial oil pipeline across northern Minnesota.

The Commerce Department, in a regulatory filing Tuesday, claims the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) ruling is “affected by legal error and is unsupported by the evidence.”

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Fond du Lac OK’s Line 3 Crossing its Lands; Commerce Continues Criticism of Enbridge’s Liability Insurance

Two new filings came into the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) today. One, a joint letter by the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and Enbridge Energy, announced they had reached agreement to allow the new Line 3 to cross the Fond du Lac reservation. In the letter, Fond du Lac also agrees not to oppose the pipeline. In the other filing, the Minnesota Department of Commerce reiterated its concerns that Enbridge has inadequate insurance coverage to pay for a major spill cleanup.

In other news, a federal court dealt a significant set back to the Kinder Morgan tar sands crude oil pipeline.

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Commerce: Enbridge’s Oil Spill Insurance Inadequate for Line 3 and Mainline System

The flaws in the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC’s) decision to approve the new Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline are becoming more and more apparent. The latest is the PUC buying into Enbridge’s last-minute promise to have adequate insurance to cover a major oil spill.

According to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Enbridge’s oil spill insurance coverage is not only inadequate for a new Line 3, it appears inadequate for Enbridge’s entire mainline system through northern Minnesota.

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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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Enbridge Tries to Bamboozle the PUC, Minnesota’s Dept. of Commerce Pushes Back

Is the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) being a) hoodwinked, b) hornswaggled, or c) bamboozled by Enbridge, or all of the above?

At the center of the bamboozle is Enbridge’s pledge to provide a “Decommissioning Trust Fund.” It would be a financial reserve to pay for the removal and/or clean up of the newly approved Line 3 once it has outlived its useful purpose.

It’s a little understood proposal — because it’s only been around for a week. After years of debate over Line 3, Enbridge made a last-minute pitch of deal sweeteners to try to woo PUC approval. (Along with the Decommissioning Trust Fund, Enbridge promised to include a Parental Guaranty for Environmental Damages; Landowner Choice Program (for removing old pipeline); Neutral Footprint Program; and General Liability and Environmental Impairment Liability Insurance.)

The problem is, these proposals came in after the contested case hearing was done and the record closed. Line 3 opponents had no chance to review or comment on these proposals. At the time of the PUC vote, Enbridge’s Trust Fund proposal was thin. The PUC told Enbridge to submit more details and on July 16, Enbridge filed its Decommissioning Trust Fund Proposal. The Minnesota Department of Commerce responded days later, seeking significant changes in what appears to be a complicated and inadequate plan.

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