Enbridge’s Credibility Takes Major Hit in Judge’s Line 3 Report; PUC Must Reject Project

Honor the Earth map of current and proposed Line 3 routes.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) should reject Enbridge’s Line 3 proposal based on the biased and self-serving arguments Enbridge used during the regulatory review process. Minnesota needs credible partners in such major infrastructure projects.

Administrative Law Judge Ann O’Reilly’s Line 3 report to the PUC identifies several key areas where Enbridge’s flawed arguments undercut its credibility as an honest broker of information.

On the surface, O’Reilly’s report was something of a head scratcher, proposing an unpopular and unworkable option. She recommends taking the old pipeline out of its current trench and installing the new pipeline in the same trench.

Enbridge wants to open a new pipeline corridor. It knows it won’t get permission from Leech Lake or Fond du Lac to run a new line through their reservations. Enbrige also wants to avoid the extra costs of removing the old pipeline, a bill it places at $1.2 billion. On the other side, the tribes don’t like O’Reilly’s recommendation. They not only want the pipelines off reservation land, but off the treaty territory where they have reserved rights to hunt, fish and gather.

O’Reillly’s recommendation seems to leave the PUC in the lurch.

Yet dig into O’Reilly’s report and you find damaging criticism of Enbridge’s testimony. First, Enbridge failed to adequately assess the environmental damage that its proposed new Line 3 corridor would create and ignores the culture impacts the project would have on the Anishinaabe people. Second, she disputes key parts of Enbridge’s expert testimony on the demand for crude oil — the essential facts the company needs to justify building a new pipeline. Lastly, she questions Enbridge’s credibility on the arguments it used to avoid having to pay to remove the old pipeline.

The PUC needs to take these credibility issues to heart. It is expected to vote on Line 3 in June.

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Enbridge’s Secret: It Has Easements Allowing for More Pipelines in the New Corridor

Proposed Line 3 reroute.

Critics have been warning state policy makers about the bad precedent they would set by allowing Enbridge to abandon its old Line 3 tar sands pipeline in the ground and build a new and larger pipeline along a new route.

Boy were those critics right.

Enbridge seems to be planning ahead to abandon three other aging pipelines in the ground — each adding future clean-up costs to landowners and/or the state.

And Enbridge hasn’t been transparent about it.

The decision now is in the hands of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). It is expected to vote on Line 3 in June. If the PUC approves Enbridge’s proposal, it would be the first major crude oil pipeline abandonment in the state’s history.

Administrative Law Judge Ann O’Reilly’s 370-page report on Line 3, issued to the PUC on April 23, raises significant concerns about Enbridge’s future plans.

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Line 3 Abandonment: Enbridge Wants to Leave its Mess for Someone Else to Clean Up

Enbridge’s current deteriorating Line 3 tar sands crude oil pipeline on the Fond du Lac Reservation. Erosion and other factors have exposed the pipeline above ground (2016). Photos by John Ratzloff.
Close-up of the corrosion on the exposed pipeline’s exterior.

One aspect of Enbridge’s proposed new Line 3 crude oil pipeline in Minnesota needs more scrutiny: The company’s plan to abandon its old Line 3 pipeline in the ground.

Enbridge is a multi-billion dollar company and runs the world’s longest crude oil and liquids transportation system. Surely it can do better.

Minnesotans for Pipeline Cleanup recently released a report titled Enbridge’s Mess that highlights the problems around pipeline abandonment.

Line 3 would be the first crude oil pipeline abandonment in Minnesota history. What state leaders allow to happen now sets a precedent for all future pipeline abandonment. Further, Enbridge’s plan would shift future clean-up costs to the next generation of Minnesotans. Continue reading