MPR Seeks Enbridge Line 3 Feedback: Tell It the Line Isn’t Needed

Minnesota sales of refined petroleum products has been on the decline.

MPR’s Public Insight Network is asking for listener feedback on the proposed expansion and rerouting of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota.

The way MPR frames the issue is one more example for our recent critique: MPR Continues to Disappoint in its Enbridge Line 3 Coverage.

Here’s the link to the feedback page, which frames the debate as follows:

Enbridge Energy’s plan to replace its aging Line 3 pipeline is forcing state regulators to weigh the potential economic benefits to Minnesota against the environmental risks. But how to decide? Enbridge says the new Line 3 will be stronger and safer than what’s in the ground now. Environmentalists and Ojibwe tribes warn that Minnesota would invite disaster by backing another high-volume oil pipeline. It’s a complex decision that will test the state’s ability to balance the demands of industry and the environment. Minnesotans will live with it for generations. The decision will likely come in June. Now, MPR News wants to know what you’re thinking.

The Insight Network’s short blurb says a lot about how MPR sees the issue. It frames the Line 3 debate very poorly.

The Insight Network omits the question of need, thereby giving the impression that the new Line 3 is necessary. It is not: MPR’s framing makes no mention of whether or not Minnesota needs this pipeline. It doesn’t challenge the need for a so-called “stronger and safer” pipeline. Instead, it poses the debate as a balancing act between the demands of industry and the environment. Why does MPR make the “demands of industry” central to the discussion? This should not not be about what industry needs, the question should be whether the environmental risks are offset by other benefits to residents taking the risk. (More on this later.)

The Insight Network uses the vague term “environmental risks” instead of being explicit: The risks include crude oil spills in or near our cleanest lakes, rivers, and wild rice areas. These spills would never be fully cleaned up because of the nature of tar sands crude: It’s heaving and sinks. Further, the environmental risks include a $287 billion climate change impact. The Insight Network’s set-up fails to mention the term “climate change.”

The Insight Network’s framing fails to mention treaty rights issues: Treaty rights are central to this debate. The Ojibwe have protected treaty rights to hunt, fish and gather on lands the proposed pipeline would cross. Treaty rights are the supreme law of the land. Why did the Insight Network narrative not mention treaty rights?

Our earlier blog, MPR Continues to Disappoint in its Enbridge Line 3 Coverage, will give you some ideas to share with MPR. With the rest of this blog, I will focus on why Line 3 isn’t necessary or prudent. Continue reading