By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership
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 among the dirtiest 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.