Aitkin County Sheriff to bill Enbridge 4,800 staff hours for Line 3 training and responses

And pushing back on Sheriff Guida’s claims his office didn’t take sides in the controversy

[The correct date for this blog is Nov. 11, 2021]

Aitkin County Sheriff’s Office will submit bills to the Enbridge Line 3 Public Safety Escrow Account for reimbursements for 4,800 hours of staff time dedicated to Line 3 work, Sheriff Dan Guida said in a statement issued Wednesday.

Specifically, the county will bill 4,373 hours for public safety responses and 450 hours for staff training on pipeline construction. Guida didn’t include a dollar figure for those costs. A back-of-the-envelop calculation estimates salary costs around $140,000. The final bill could go higher if it includes benefits, travel, equipment and other costs beyond salaries.

In his statement, Guida said his office stayed neutral on the conflict. That claim needs to be challenged.

Continue reading

Law enforcement costs top $1.6 million for their presence during the August ‘Treaties Not Tar Sands’ rally at the Capitol

On Aug. 27, the day following the four-day ‘Treaty Not Tar Sands’ rally, law enforcement turned out en masse to evict anyone who hadn’t left. Photo: Maggie Schuppert

[Note: This updates an Oct. 26 post with new information. The Oct. 26 post has been taken down.]

Minnesota state government spent $1.6 million in law enforcement, concrete barricades, and chain link fencing to “protect” the Capitol during the Treaties Not Tars Sands event, Aug. 23-27, according to data provided by the Department of Administration and the Department of Public Safety (DPS).

Seven other agencies responded to DPS’s request for aid. Their costs are not included in that figure.

It’s another chapter in excessive policing of water protectors. It stands in stark contrast to the state’s lax response to Enbridge’s permit violations and the environmental damage done during construction of the Line 3 tar sands pipeline through northern Minnesota.

Continue reading

State spent $100,000 for Capitol barricades during ‘Treaties Not Tar Sands’ rally and unknown law enforcement costs

This post has been taken down as it was out of date. For the most recent information, see: Law enforcement costs top $1.6 million for their presence during the August ‘Treaties Not Tar Sands’ rally at the Capitol

When will the old Enbridge Line 3 pipeline get shut down? It’s up to the EPA

But what does ‘as expeditiously as practical’ mean?

UPDATE: See Enbridge tells EPA it’s already started to decommission the old Line 3 pipeline

A major reason the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted to approve the new and larger Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline is because commissioners were deathly afraid that original (and aging) Line 3 would rupture and spill somewhere along its northern Minnesota route.

Recall that then-PUC Commissioner Dan Lipschultz famously said that he felt like he had “a gun to the head,” meaning he either approved the new Line 3 or risked a major spill on the old Line 3.

Enbridge filed notice with the PUC Sept. 29 that Line 3 “is expected to be placed into service, with line fill activities reaching Minnesota, as early as October 3, 2021.”

That should put the gears in motion to shut down the old Line 3. That was the deal.

I’m guessing Enbridge would like to double dip as long as it can, running both pipelines and getting more profits. So who’s going to force Enbridge to stop running the old Line 3?

It’s the federal government’s responsibility, but exactly when that will happen isn’t clear.

Continue reading

Another Enbridge promise bites the dust, to Minnesota regulators’ indifference

Enbridge promised the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that the Line 3 Decommissioning Trust Fund would be in place before it started Line 3 operations.

It turns out to be an empty promise, because it’s not enforceable. Enbridge will start Line 3 operations in the coming weeks, and the PUC has yet to open proceedings on the Decommissioning Trust Fund.

It’s one more act in the Kabuki theater that’s Minnesota’s regulatory oversight of Enbridge Line 3: All image, no substance.

Continue reading

Tar sands industry, Enbridge, face collapsing insurance market for spill cleanups

Take heart, water protectors, public pressure is having success in stopping the tar sands oil industry.

Ironically, pressure seems to be more successful on the private sector than government itself, which is supposed to protect the public interest.

This month, Chubb Insurance announced it was dropping coverage on any tar sands oil projects, the result of public pressure, according to the Insurance Business Magazine. (Chubb describes itself as “the world’s largest publicly traded property and casualty insurance company.”)

In June 2020, the Swiss-based Zurich insurance company announced it was dropping its coverage of Canada’s Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline. Zurich had been the pipeline’s lead insurer.

Some 16 insurance companies have dropped Trans Mountain’s coverage.

“Insurers are being pressured by environmental activist groups to exit their coverage of fossil fuel infrastructure because, without insurance, these projects can be stopped in their tracks,” according to an article in the Insurance Journal.

The insurance crunch will have an impact on Enbridge, and raise challenging questions for Minnesota state regulators.

Continue reading