Tag Archives: Minnesota

Minnesota panel issues formal permit for disputed Enbridge pipeline

Line 3 construction is already underway in Canada. Image: Enbridge

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) – Minnesota regulators have issued a formal order approving a route permit for Enbridge Energy’s plan to replace its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota.

The Public Utilities Commission approved the project in June. Its written order Friday followed one last month granting a certificate of need. If the commission denies petitions to reconsider those formal orders, opponents can ask the Minnesota Court of Appeals to overturn them.

Alberta-based Enbridge says it needs to replace Line 3, which was built in the 1960s, because it’s increasingly subject to corrosion and cracking.

But opponents say the new line, which would follow a partly different route, risks oil spills in the pristine Mississippi River headwaters region where Native Americans harvest wild rice, and that it would aggravate climate change.

PUC approves Line 3 route. Map by News Tribune on Oct 26, 2018

By Associated Press

[SOURCE]

Minnesota Regulators Postpone Line 3 Meeting After Protests

FILE: Protest against the Enbridge Line 3 replacement in Minnesota.

Enbridge Line 3 meetings postponed after protests erupt

Minnesota regulators postponed a meeting Tuesday on Enbridge Energy’s planned Line 3 replacement after pipeline opponents disrupted the meeting with a bullhorn and a boombox.

Protests erupted as the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission met to discuss whether Enbridge met conditions earlier imposed by the panel. The PUC approved the project in June, giving Enbridge a green light to replace its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline across Minnesota.

Opponents in the back of the PUC hearing room took out a bullhorn and made speeches aimed at the commissioners, the Star Tribune reported.

“You should all be ashamed,” one protester said.

PUC Chairwoman Nancy Lange recessed the meeting but eventually canceled it when a protester playing music on a boombox refused to turn it off.

Several opponents sat with their backs facing the commissioners. Their shirts featured slogans such as “Enbridge lap dogs.”

In a statement, Enbridge said it was “unfortunate that a small group of people derailed” the meeting. The Canadian-based company said the conditions that were up for discussion were intended to “protect Minnesotans.”

“We acknowledge that the process has been long and difficult and raised many passionate interventions. But what happened today crossed the line,” Enbridge said.

State Rep. Dan Fabian, a Roseau Republican who chairs the Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, also criticized the protesters.

“Minnesota is better than this nonsense,” Fabian said in a statement. He called on Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration, the PUC and local law enforcement “to do whatever necessary to prevent disruptions like this from happening in the future.”

Line 3 runs from Alberta, Canada, across North Dakota and Minnesota to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. Enbridge wants to replace the line, which it built in the 1960s and is running at only about half its original capacity. The replacement would restore its original capacity. But Native American and environmental activists contend the new line risks spills in fragile areas.

By The Associated Press

[SOURCE]

Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Approves Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project

According to Enbridge, the multibillion-dollar Line 3 replacement represents the largest project in the company’s history. Here, contractors work near Superior, Wis. MPR News

Minnesota regulators have approved Enbridge’s proposal to replace its Line 3 pipeline across the northern part of the state.

According to media reports, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved the $9-billion Enbridge Line 3 replacement project on Thursday afternoon.

MPR News says the decision came with several conditions, including a decommissioning trust fund to ensure the new pipeline will be retired responsibly decades from now. Enbridge will also be required to follow through on a promise to landowners to remove portions of the old Line 3 upon request.

The Globe and Mail reports, a narrow 3-2 decision approved Enbridge’s preferred route for the pipeline, south of the existing corridor, with only slight modifications, meaning the company dodges the potential for lengthy delays and added costs of alternatives.

Indigenous tribes and environmental groups vowed immediately to appeal the decision and maintain their resistance to the project.

In a sign of potential clashes ahead, the commission was interrupted midway through Thursday’s deliberations in St. Paul, Minn., by shouts that it had “declared war on the Ojibwe.”

Native american activists and environmentalists oppose the project, saying it’s unnecessary and would risk spills in pristine areas of the state.

Line 3 also requires 29 additional permits from local, state and federal levels, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said in a statement. “Approvals are by no means assured,” he said.

Appeals of the commission’s decisions go to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

The Minnesota Legislature also could intervene when it reconvenes next year. Dayton vetoed a bill last session that would have let Enbridge bypass the commission and proceed with replacing Line 3. But voters will elect a new governor and a new Legislature in November.

The total length of the Line 3 replacement is 1,031-mile (1,660-km) from Alberta in western Canada to Wisconsin.

Appeals Court Allows ‘Necessity Defense’ for Pipeline Protesters in Minnesota

Climate activists Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein shut down Enbridge’s tar sands pipelines 4 and 67 in Minnesota on Oct. 11, 2016. Climate Direct Action

Enbridge pipeline protesters claim threat of climate change made civil disobedience necessary

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that four anti-pipeline activists facing criminal charges have a legit case to argue the “necessity defense” in court.

According to EcoWatch, the so-called “Valve Turners” Emily Johnston and Annette Klapstein were charged after shutting off the emergency valves on a pair of tar sands pipelines owned by Enbridge Energy.

The pipelines targeted were Enbridge line 4 and 67 in Leonard, Minnesota.

Johnston and Klapstein, and the two defendants who filmed them in October 2016, argue their actions to stop the flow of the polluting bitumen from Canadian tar sands fields to the U.S. were justified due to the threat of climate change and had no legal alternatives. They plan to call expert witnesses who will back them up.

Prosecutors had challenged the decision to allow the “necessity defense” arguing its inclusion would confuse a jury and be less likely to result in a conviction, but the Court ruled 2-1 against them. The state can ask the Supreme Court to take up the issue.

While District Judge Robert Tiffany allowed the necessity defense, he also warned in a ruling in October that the four must clear a high legal bar to succeed.

Another hurdle is that the jury will come from a sparsely populated county where Enbridge is a major employer and the largest property taxpayer.

Johnston and Klapstein face felony charges of criminal damage to critical public service facilities and other counts.

Attorneys expect the judge to set trial dates for sometime this summer in Clearwater County.

The necessity defense has worked for climate activists before.

Last month, a Massachusetts judge found 13 activists who were arrested for sitting in holes dug for a pipeline to block construction “not responsible by reason of necessity” because the action was taken to avoid serious climate damage.

US officials to hold meeting on Alberta Clipper Pipeline

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Pipeline expansion spurs meeting in Bemidji

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Mar. 5, 2017 — State Department officials will come to Minnesota on Tuesday to hold the only public meeting on a draft environmental review for the final segment of Enbridge Energy’s project to boost capacity in its Alberta Clipper pipeline, which carries Canadian tar sands oil across northern Minnesota to Superior, Wisconsin.

The State Department’s four-year review concluded that there would be no significant environmental impacts from completing the project, which requires a presidential permit because the last remaining segment crosses the U.S.-Canadian border in North Dakota. But environmentalists and some Native American tribes dispute that and are gearing up for the meeting in the northern Minnesota city of Bemidji.

Here’s a look at some issues involved:

The pipeline

Enbridge built the Alberta Clipper, also known as Line 67, in 2009 for $1 billion. Its capacity was 450,000 barrels per day. Enbridge later decided to nearly double that to 800,000 barrels; the Calgary, Alberta-based company did most of that by adding pumping stations along the route.

Enbridge needs a presidential permit for the 3-mile segment where the 1,000-mile pipeline crosses the border. Getting the permit is a lengthy process. The Keystone XL pipeline that would run from Canada’star sands oilto Nebraska, for example, was derailed when President Barack Obama rejected its permit. President Donald Trump has invited Keystone XL developer TransCanada to reapply.

Enbridge is operating the Alberta Clipper at full capacity with a temporary workaround. It built a detour to and from a parallel pipeline that crosses the border nearby and already has a permit. Opponents challenged the legality of that setup in court but lost.

Why Enbridge wants it

Enbridge spokeswoman Shannon Gustafson called the Alberta Clipper “a vital piece of energy infrastructure” that bolsters America’s energy security because it lessens the need for imports from unstable nations. Midwest refineries depend on the oil that Enbridge pipelines deliver, she said.

“Pipelines continue to be the safest, most reliable means of transporting crude oil that Minnesotans and Midwesterners rely on in their daily lives,” Gustafson said.

Other Enbridge projects in the works are a proposed replacement for its 1960s-era Line 3 that would follow part of the same corridor. In fact, the Alberta Clipper detour uses an upgraded section of Line 3 to cross the border. Line 3 is also drawing opposition from tribes and environmentalists.

The opposition

A coalition of environmental and tribal groups opposes the Alberta Clipper because it carries tar sands oil, which they consider a bigger environmental threat than regular crude. The pipeline crosses the lake country of northern Minnesota, including the Leech Lake and Fond du Lac Ojibwe reservations. Opponents say it threatens ecologically sensitive areas, as well as resources such as wild rice that are important to the Ojibwe bands.

Some of the leading opponents, including Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth, were also active in the fight against the Dakota Access oil pipeline. LaDuke said protests that drew thousands to the Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota have spawned new “water protectors” to oppose Enbridge.

LaDuke is organizing a “Sustainability Summit” for Tuesday ahead of the State Department meeting. Her event will highlight clean energy alternatives. Participants will then march to the meeting and hold a rally that will include traditional Ojibwe drumming and dancing.

The meeting

The State Department is holding Tuesday’s meeting as part of the public comment period on the draft environmental review, which runs through March 27. The agency will consider those comments as it prepares the final version. The president must then determine whether issuing the permit is in the national interest.

By The Associated Press

[SOURCE]