Insider: November 17, 2017

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Environmental Insider is brought to you by the Minnesota Environmental Partnership

Reality Check on Proposed Line 3

Next Wednesday, November 22 will mark the conclusion of the Public Utilities  Commission’s  public comment period on the proposed Enbridge Line 3 pipeline. Since late September, the PUC has been collecting testimony from intervenors and members of the public on this proposal, specifically on the issue of the certificate of need and route permits that Line 3 would require. Without the PUC’s approval, the new Line 3 project can’t keep moving forward.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has concluded that the dangers of this pipeline to Minnesotans far outweigh any benefits. But with the debate continuing up to the PUC decision, Line 3 backers have attempted to convince public opinion, through ads and articles, that the pipeline is necessary for Minnesota’s economy and healthy for the environment. To help ensure that the debate  is balanced and based in sound science, MEP has released a fact sheet on Line 3, and addressed some of the disingenuous claims that have been put forward.

  • “Minnesota needs the oil that the new Line 3 would carry.” Apart from the fact that Line 3 would carry tar sands oil from Canada to Superior, Wisconsin, Minnesota’s demand for finished petroleum products like gasoline is down 19% from its 2004 levels.
  • “If the old Line 3 is shut down, there won’t be enough pipeline capacity.” In fact, even if the old Line 3 were shut down and not replaced, there would be at least 500,000 barrels per day of capacity on the existing network to haul this oil – which is declining in volume.
  • “Without this pipeline, we’ll have to ship oil by rail, which is more dangerous.” Oil by rail has declined sharply in Minnesota, and there’s little sign it’s going to return. Since the peak in 2014, oil by rail traffic in the state has decreased by 70%. And while oil trains do run higher risk of accidents, rail spills are easier to clean up and tend to be smaller in volume than pipeline spills.
  • “Minnesota may be moving away from fossil fuels, but we still need this oil for now.”  While it’s true that Minnesota won’t transition to an all-electric, green economy overnight, this oil is a bridge too far. The tar sands oil that Line 3 would carry is the dirtiest oil on earth, with more than 30% greater carbon emissions than conventional crude. Burning the fossil fuels from already-used sources and infrastructure is projected to push the world above a 2% global temperature increase, which spells even greater climate catastrophe in years to come. We need to redouble our investment in renewable technology and jobs, not subsidize a declining, environmentally disastrous fuel source.

For more information on tar sands pipeline, read our fact sheet and more at, and contact the Public Utilities Commission before Wednesday the 22nd to share your concerns!


Meet the young activists fighting Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline

(From MPR News) — Much of the debate over Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 oil pipeline proposal has been framed as environmental issues against jobs and oil needs. But for a group of 13 young people calling themselves the Youth Climate Intervenors, it’s much bigger than that. Here’s their case: All the oil Enbridge’s replacement pipeline would carry across Minnesota would exacerbate climate change — and the youngest among us will suffer the effects the most. Young people are leading the fight against the pipeline, said 23-year-old Brent Murcia. “And that makes sense, because it’s our fight. We are here to be a voice for the future.” >>Read More.

photo credit: Kurt Haubrich

Safety demands saying no to pipeline

(From St. Cloud Times) — I appreciate the Oct. 29 Your Turn “Family business built on projects like Enbridge pipeline” by Lori Schott stating jobs are an important factor when considering Enbridge’s Pipeline 3 replacement, but I must disagree with her assessment.  There is no doubt the old pipeline is an ecological disaster waiting to happen and needs to be shut down. The real question is not where a replacement should be placed, but whether it should be replaced at all. Enbridge has a poor safety record. Its website contains data indicating 804 spills between 1999-2010 that released about 6.8 million gallons of oil. >>Read More.



Photo credit: Bureau of Land Management

University of Minnesota researchers are blasting weeds with corncob grit to protect raspberries and other crops

(From Star Tribune) — University of Minnesota researchers are confronting the age-old problem of controlling weeds with a new approach: blasting them at high pressure with abrasive corncob grit. Scientists at the U’s West Central Research and Outreach Center near Morris will begin a two-year research project next spring to test the technique on raspberry crops at the center and at two commercial raspberry farms. “When your plants are young and you’ve just worked up the soil, you get a flush of weeds from pigweed to lambsquarters to foxtail, and whatever else,” said Steve Poppe, a senior horticulture scientist at the center. >>Read More.



Recycling in Winona County: The good, the bad, and the non-recyclable

(From Winona Daily News) — Winona County residents appear to be getting the hang of it. Almost a year after Winona County shifted its recycling services from Veolia to Harter’s Quick Clean Up of La Crosse, Wis., the county’s sustainability coordinator, Anne Morse, said she is pleased with what she saw from a Winona County collection shipment on a recent tour of the county’s newest recycling servicer. “It was darn gratifying,” Morse said. “I didn’t see a lot of nonrecyclable materials.” And that impression mirrors the numbers. In 2016, Winona County recycled 28,565 tons of natural resources, while its wasted natural resource amount was just over 27,000 tons. This has given Winona County one of the best programs in the state in terms of items available to recycle and the number of homes participating, Morse said. >>Read More.


Would you change your commute for a possible reward?

(From Rochester Post Bulletin) — Rochester Public Transit has started a weeklong campaign encouraging people who live or work in Rochester to try a different way to get around. The fall Commuter Challenge is an invitation to visit the RPT website,, this week and make an online pledge to give local transit, commuter bus, carpooling, biking or walking a try any time in the next six months. All completed pledge forms will be entered, subject to eligibility, into a drawing to win one of nearly 20 prizes being awarded. “Driving alone is not always the best — and certainly not the only way to get around Rochester,” said Nick Lemmer marketing and outreach coordinator for the City of Rochester Parking and Transit division. >>Read More.


Weekly Environmental Trivia – Answers Below Job Postings!  

1. A 2015 Minnesota government survey found that every dollar that businesses invest in Conservation Improvement Programs provides $4 to $4.30 in what area?

2. The deepest lake wholly within Minnesota was  artificially created from what type of hole?

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Trivia Answers: 1) Energy savings. 2) Iron-mining pit

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