Enbridge’s Oil Spill Analysis Not Credible, Ignores Tribal Impacts, Appears Intentionally Confusing

Enbridge estimates a worst-case crude oil spill in Minnesota from its proposed Line 3 pipeline would cost about $1 billion to clean up. It’s a staggering number. What’s worse, Enbridge’s analysis is flawed, making self-serving assumptions that allow it to low-ball the costs of a catastrophic rupture.

Enbridge filed its thin, seven-page report Tuesday with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), analyzing the costs of a worst-case spill. Among its most glaring errors, Enbridge failed to recognize any of the unique impacts a major oil spill would have on Anishinaabe people. It also made favorable assumptions about Enbridge’s response time, lowering the cost estimates. Continue reading

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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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PUC Final Order Approving Line 3 is Racist

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC’s) Sept. 5 final order approving the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline is disturbing. It ignores significant arguments brought forward by Native nations, environmental groups and youth, cherry picking facts to justify its decision.

The order has many flaws in how it addresses climate change, environmental risks to our state’s clean waters, and other issues that will be explored in a later blog. This blog focuses on the order’s racist conclusion that the PUC doesn’t need to consider the pipeline’s treaty rights impacts. Continue reading

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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Line 3 Civil Disobedience Continues, Pushing Back on a Flawed, Immoral Decision

Water Protectors opposing the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands crude oil pipeline blocked a bridge near Bemidji Tuesday, erecting a tepee and holding a water ceremony, according to an MPR story.

No arrests were made, but it’s the latest in a series of actions against the pipeline. On Sept. 11, water protectors disrupted and delayed a Minnesota Public Utilities Commission vote on Line 3 permit conditions. On Aug. 29, water protectors blocked a Bemidji intersection for four hours. Other volunteers took their laptops and tablets to Gov. Mark Daytons’ reception room and live streamed the event, an effort to pressure him to get off the fence and take a stand against Line 3. In Bemidji, 26 people received disorderly conduct citations and face mandatory court appearances.

Sadly, Dayton remains silent on whether he thinks Minnesotans should have this crude oil pipeline shoved down their proverbial throats.

Work to stop this project is ongoing. Here’s a few action steps:

  • Sign a petition telling Gov. Dayton that Line 3 is a danger to our community.
  • Sign a Pledge of Resistance to Line 3, with options ranging from hosting an event to participating in a direct action.
  • Call Dayton’s Office directly: 651-201-3400

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Protests Shut Down PUC Meeting on Enbridge Line 3

Water Protectors kept their backs to the PUC throughout today’s hearings, with messages pinned to their backs.

Water Protectors interrupted today’s Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) meeting, keeping the Commission from a vote allowing the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline to move forward. It’s a sign of the escalating tension and resistance to the project and the Commission’s ill-considered vote.

“You all should be ashamed of yourselves,” said one Water Protector, using a bull horn from the back of the hearing room. “You are supposed to be representing the state of Minnesota. You are supposed to be representing our safety — the citizen’s safety. And you are also supposed to be respect treaty rights.” (Short video segment here.)

According to a Star Tribune story: “PUC Chairwoman Nancy Lange recessed the meeting but eventually canceled it when a protester playing music on a boombox refused to turn it off. … The PUC will reschedule the meeting as soon as possible, said Dan Wolf, the commission’s executive secretary.”

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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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