By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership
On Monday, September 11, the Minnesota Department of Commerce released an analysis arguing that the proposed Enbridge Line 3 replacement pipeline, which would carry Alberta tar sands oil across Northern Minnesota, was not needed by the state, based on independent analysis of oil consumption projections. The Department further testifed that the pipeline’s environmental and social impacts on Minnesotans would outweigh the benefits, and that the previous Line 3, which is aging and running at low-capacity, should be removed and cleaned up. This analysis came as a surprise to many observers, especially considering that Enbridge has already begun construction on segments of the pipeline in Wisconsin in Canada.
Steve Morse, the Minnesota Environmental Partnership’s Executive Director, welcomed the Commerce conclusions in a press release. “The age of growth in fossil fuel demand is over,” Morse said. “We don’t need increased fossil fuel capacity.” Instead, “We need to get about the business of abandoning and cleaning up the existing Line 3.”
Though this report represents a significant blow against this hazardous pipeline, the Department of Commerce does not have the authority to prevent Line 3. The politically independent Public Utilities Commission will consider these and other arguments in hearings next spring, when it determines whether to grant Line 3 a certificate of need. But it is clear that sustained pressure from advocates on the pipeline’s harmful effects is not going unheard.
The Public Utilities Commission should take into account the harmful effects that this oil pipeline would have on water, climate change, and the health and livelihoods of Minnesota’s indigenous communities. And it should carefully consider the Department of Commerce conclusion that this new fossil fuel infrastructure is not needed. It will take continued, vocal advocacy from Minnesotans to make sure that these concerns are heard. We invite residents from across our state to educate their neighbors and speak up on Line 3’s threats to our water and climate. Visit mepartnership.org to learn more find out how to take action!