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Minnesota judge’s ruling on Line 3 pipeline a major setback for Enbridge

The Council of Canadians first expressed its opposition to the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline in March 2014.

Line 3

As proposed by the Calgary-based transnational, Line 3 would mean 1,600 kilometres of new pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior Wisconsin on the western tip of Lake Superior. The original 390,000 barrel per day Line 3 pipeline that was built in 1968 would be decommissioned and left underground. The new larger pipeline would carry 760,000 barrel per day and would have the capacity to carry diluted bitumen for 50-60 years. Enbridge admits the pipeline would mean 19-26 megatonnes of upstream greenhouse gas emissions each year.

But CBC now reports, “Judge Ann O’Reilly has shot down Enbridge’s planned new route for the expanded line, which would follow a different path for roughly half of its 543 km length that runs through Minnesota. Instead, the judge is recommending ‘in-trench’ replacement of the line along its current route. …The judge points out that sticking to the existing pipeline corridor would isolate the risk of a spill, prevent the establishment of a new pipeline corridor in an environmentally sensitive part of the state and ‘prevent the abandonment of nearly 300 miles of steel pipeline’.”

The article highlights, “The state’s Public Utilities Commission will issue its final ruling in June, but the PUC typically weighs an administrative law judge’s opinion heavily when making a decision.”

While Enbridge has stated it is “pleased” by the ruling, The Globe and Mail has reported, “Enbridge has previously pegged the cost of removing Line 3 at US$1.28-billion, according to regulatory documents. That compares with US$85-million to decommission and abandon the line, plus US$100,000 annually for monitoring.”

And that news report adds, “Enbridge Inc. shares tumbled more than 5 per cent Tuesday after a Minnesota ruling sparked fears about the viability of chief executive officer Al Monaco’s signature growth project. …Toronto-Dominion Bank analyst Linda Ezergailis told clients she remains optimistic that Line 3 can profitably proceed, ‘but we believe that the project economics for shareholders could be less compelling than originally contemplated’.”

This was not the first setback for the pipeline. In September 2017, the Minnesota Department of Commerce concluded that “Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built.” The Associated Press has reported, “The Minnesota Department of Commerce says Enbridge Energy has failed to establish the need for its proposal to replace its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota. Instead, the department says it might be better to just shut down the existing line.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved construction of Line 3 in Canada in November 2016 (the same day he approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline) despite opposition from the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs along with the Ochapowace, Keeseekoose, George Gordon and Pasqua First Nations in Saskatchewan.

The Qu’Appelle Valley Environmental Association (QVEA) in Saskatchewan has stated, “[The Line 3 pipeline] will crisscross fourteen of our watercourses, including our major rivers – tunneling under the South Saskatchewan River, south of Outlook, and under the Qu’Appelle River, near Bethune.”

#StopLine3 #HonorTheTreaties