Min­nesota agency says En­bridge fails to show new pipe­line need

Wisconsin Gazette - - Front Page -

En­bridge En­ergy has failed to es­tab­lish the need to re­place its ag­ing Line 3 crudeoil pipe­line across north­ern Min­nesota, the Min­nesota Depart­ment of Com­merce said in Septem­ber. The depart­ment added that shut­ting down the line would be a bet­ter op­tion.

Wis­con­sin en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists cheered the de­vel­op­ment, which could im­pact En­bridge’s tar sands ex­pan­sion in the state.

“This is a key turn­ing point,” said Mary Beth El­liott, spokes­woman for the en­vi­ron­men­tal group 350 Madi­son.

The pro­posal by Cal­gary, Al­berta-based En­bridge to re­place Line 3 — which was built in the 1960s to carry Cana­dian crude Su­pe­rior, Wis­con­sin — has gen­er­ated strong op­po­si­tion from tribal and en­vi­ron­men­tal groups. That’s partly be­cause the com­pany’s pre­ferred route cuts through the Mis­sis­sippi River head­wa­ters re­gion and pris­tine lake coun­try where Ojibwe bands har­vest wild rice. And the new pipe­line could carry tar sands oil, which is dirt­ier than light crude and puts more wear on the pipes.

Busi­ness and la­bor groups back the $7.5 bil­lion En­bridge project.


In fil­ings with the Min­nesota Pub­lic Util­i­ties Com­mis­sion Sept. 11, the agency said re­finer­ies in Min­nesota and the up­per Mid­west al­ready have suf­fi­cient sup­plies of crude oil and lit­tle ca­pac­ity for pro­cess­ing more of it.

The com­merce depart­ment also said Min­nesota’s de­mand for gaso­line and other re­fined petroleum prod­ucts ap­pears un­likely to in­crease over the long term. And En­bridge’s pro­posal car­ries se­ri­ous en­vi­ron­men­tal and so­cio-eco­nomic risks that out­weigh the ben­e­fits to the state.

“In light of the se­ri­ous risks of the ex­ist­ing Line 3 and the lim­ited ben­e­fit that the ex­ist­ing Line 3 pro­vides to Min­nesota re­finer­ies, Min­nesota would be bet­ter off if En­bridge pro­posed to cease op­er­a­tions of the ex­ist­ing Line 3, with­out any new pipe­line be­ing built,” said the fil­ing by Kate O’Con­nell, man­ager of the depart­ment’s En­ergy Reg­u­la­tion and Plan­ning Unit.


The fi­nal de­ci­sion on whether to grant a cer­tifi­cate of need in Min­nesota is up to the com­mis­sion, which is in­de­pen­dent of Gov. Mark Day­ton’s ad­min­is­tra­tion. But the Demo­cratic gov­er­nor ap­pointed all five com­mis­sion­ers.

The com­mis­sion must also de­cide on a route.

En­bridge wants to be­gin Line 3 at the start of the ex­ist­ing cor­ri­dor, but then take a more southerly path for the rest its path.

In April, the com­mis­sion is sched­uled to de­cide the is­sues raised af­ter fur­ther pro­ceed­ings and more pub­lic in­put.

Day­ton called the com­merce analysis “very com­pre­hen­sive,” but said he would wait for the “com­plete record” to emerge from the 30-day re­sponse pe­riod be­fore declar­ing his view on the project.

He said he was con­fi­dent the com­mis­sion would make a de­ci­sion in the state’s best in­ter­ests.

“This doc­u­ment will arouse con­sid­er­able con­tro­versy,” the gov­er­nor said in a state­ment. “That dis­cord should be rec­og­nized as part of the wis­dom of the process.”

Min­nesota House Speaker Kurt Daudt, a Repub­li­can, called the fil­ings “yet an­other ex­am­ple of (Democrats) sid­ing with ex­treme en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivists while putting Min­nesotans’ jobs and safety at risk.”


In a state­ment, En­bridge said it dis­agreed with the state agency’s fil­ings and is re­view­ing the ev­i­dence.

The com­pany called the in­fra­struc­ture crit­i­cal, adding that it would be “re­placed with the most ad­vanced ma­te­ri­als, most up-to-date tech­nol­ogy and un­der su­pe­rior con­struc­tion meth­ods.”

The com­pany will have a chance to file a for­mal re­sponse with the com­mis­sion within 30 days.

But En­bridge pre­vi­ously said it needs to re­place Line 3 be­cause it has had to sharply re­strict the vol­ume the pipe­line car­ries to just over half its orig­i­nal ca­pac­ity of 760,000 bar­rels per day.

And it said the old pipe­line’s main­te­nance needs con­tinue to grow. It calls Line 3 a vi­tal link for meet­ing the de­mand for Cana­dian oil from re­finer­ies in Min­nesota, Wis­con­sin and else­where. The re­place­ment would have a ca­pac­ity of 844,000 bar­rels per day, the com­merce fil­ings said.


Com­merce said if the PUC ap­proves the project, it should re­quire a stronger emer­gency re­sponse plan, thicker pipe and other safety mea­sures, as well as more in­sur­ance cov­er­age and other fi­nan­cial as­sur­ances for clean­ing up ma­jor spills and de­com­mis­sion­ing the pipe­line when it reaches the end of its use­ful life.

And 350 Madi­son said if Min­nesota re­jects the new line 3, there could be a di­rect im­pact on Wis­con­sin.

Ac­cord­ing to the ac­tivists — but con­trary to pub­lic state­ments from the en­ergy com­pany — En­bridge has been con­duct­ing sur­vey work for the con­struc­tion of a Line 66 between Su­pe­rior and Dela­van.

To reach a new Wis­con­sin line, the tar sands oil would need to come from Canada across Min­nesota in Line 3.

El­liott, of 350 Madi­son, pre­dicted there would be no Line 66 if Line 3 is re­jected by Min­nesota.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.