As Enbridge races to finish Line 3 construction, more suspected frac-outs

Water Protector Shanai Matteson points to the Willow River frac-out. Screengrab from Honor the Earth video.

On July 6, water protectors found an Enbridge Line 3 frac-out at the Willow River.

On Monday, Honor the Earth reported a suspected Line 3 frac-out at the Shell River. [Update July 22: The MPCA says there was no frac-out on the shell. It did report that Enbridge has had frac-outs at nine different construction sites. Updated blog coming soon.]

Today, the Indigenous Environmental Network reported a suspected Line 3 frac-out near the Mississippi headwaters. (Video here.)

Details of the frac-outs are still coming in.

It’s possible to see frac-outs on the surface of rivers and wetlands. There could be other frac-outs below the surface that remain unseen.

How many frac-outs will it take for state regulators to require something different, or do they dismiss frac-outs as an acceptable environmental cost?

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The PUC isn’t acting in the public interest or even answering public questions about flaws in its Line 3 permits

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is a uniquely confusing state entity. It’s not a state agency. It’s not a court. It’s a quasi-judicial entity, something of a hybrid which also happens to lack both transparency and accountability.

I watched the PUC’s deliberations on the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline going back to 2017-18, and I remain confused about why the Commission seemed to bend over backwards for Enbridge and ignore the public interest.

It led me to reread the PUC’s convoluted mission statement and question whether that’s part of the problem:

The Commission’s mission is to create and maintain a regulatory environment that ensures safe, adequate and efficient utility services at fair, reasonable rates consistent with State telecommunications and energy policies. It does so by providing independent, consistent, professional and comprehensive oversight and regulation of utility service providers. One of the key functions of the commission in performing this mission is to balance the private and public interests affected in each docket, and to make decisions that appropriately balance these interests in a manner that is “consistent with the public interest.” (Emphasis added.)

PUC website

If you blur your eyes and don’t think too hard, you might think it’s reasonable. Boiling it down into its simplest terms, it makes no sense. The mission statement says the PUC is supposed to balance the private and public interest in a manner consistent with the public interest.

It implies there are two kinds of “public interest.” One is the full-blown public interest. Then the PUC balances the public interest against the corporate interest — compromising the public interest — and still comes up with a decision that’s “consistent with the public interest”?

The PUC didn’t consider the public interest in approving Line 3. The public interest was nowhere to be found.

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Two more Line 3 workers arrested in sex trafficking sting

The state lacks transparency on the extent of the problem

A sex trafficking sting in northern Minnesota resulted in six arrests, including two men who were working on the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline, the Bemidji Pioneer reported. They have been fired.

Last February, a similar sex trafficking sting resulted in seven arrests, and again at least two of them worked on Line 3.

In both stings, law enforcement set up a phony sex advertising website and arrested men who arrived to arranged meeting, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) said.

Out of the two stings, Line 3 workers represent 30 percent of those arrested. It’s a small sample but it seems like a high number.

The state of Minnesota has failed to provide needed transparency and accountability for Line 3-related sex trafficking. The very structure is flawed. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) required and approved Enbridge’s Human Trafficking Prevention Plan. But the plan has no teeth and no one is responsible for follow up.

What’s the point of requiring a plan if no one is going to enforce it?

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Revisiting the PUC’s tortured logic to approve Line 3 regardless of its massive climate damage

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) wrote in its Certificate of Need for Enbridge Line 3 that benefits of approving it outweighed the costs.

It could only come to that conclusion by completely ignoring climate damage.

There are clear signs in the record that Commissioners were grasping at straws to justify approving Line 3 in spite of its clear and significant climate damage.

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Revisiting the PUC’s tortured logic to approve Line 3 regardless of treaty rights violations

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC’s) order approving the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline contradicts itself, and even admits that Line 3 violates treaty law.

I regret not seeing this earlier. I noticed it while rereading Line 3’s Certificate of Need. So from the Better-Late-Than-Never Department, let’s revisit the PUC’s flawed justification for a bad project.

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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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Line 3 and the erosion of public trust in the Rule of Law

Camp Fire Light members charged with “trespass” peacefully leave, receiving citations. (Photo: RISE Coalition)

The Rule of Law is fundamental to democracy, a basic guarantee of fairness. It means that people, companies, and institutions are accountable to laws that are understandable and publicly known. It means that these laws are equally enforced and independently adjudicated in court.

The state of Minnesota’s handling of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline has severely eroded public trust in the Rule of Law.

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