Enbridge Tries to Bamboozle the PUC, Minnesota’s Dept. of Commerce Pushes Back

Is the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) being a) hoodwinked, b) hornswaggled, or c) bamboozled by Enbridge, or all of the above?

At the center of the bamboozle is Enbridge’s pledge to provide a “Decommissioning Trust Fund.” It would be a financial reserve to pay for the removal and/or clean up of the newly approved Line 3 once it has outlived its useful purpose.

It’s a little understood proposal — because it’s only been around for a week. After years of debate over Line 3, Enbridge made a last-minute pitch of deal sweeteners to try to woo PUC approval. (Along with the Decommissioning Trust Fund, Enbridge promised to include a Parental Guaranty for Environmental Damages; Landowner Choice Program (for removing old pipeline); Neutral Footprint Program; and General Liability and Environmental Impairment Liability Insurance.)

The problem is, these proposals came in after the contested case hearing was done and the record closed. Line 3 opponents had no chance to review or comment on these proposals. At the time of the PUC vote, Enbridge’s Trust Fund proposal was thin. The PUC told Enbridge to submit more details and on July 16, Enbridge filed its Decommissioning Trust Fund Proposal. The Minnesota Department of Commerce responded days later, seeking significant changes in what appears to be a complicated and inadequate plan.

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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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