DULUTH — Was the replacement of Line 3 supposed to be a war? According to Winona LaDuke (“A water protector comes home to reflect,” Oct. 13) it was. LaDuke suggests that government leaders and the courts somehow failed to prevent Line 3 from being built. The truth is that our regulatory system worked as intended, making the project better, for everyone’s benefit including tribal nations, communities, the environment and workers.
Let’s start with the facts. The replacement of Line 3 was a $9 billion private investment upgrading energy infrastructure in the U.S. and Canada.
Work began on the $4 billion section in the U.S. only after it was reviewed extensively and approved repeatedly by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (which has water quality authority along the pipeline route).
The open and transparent six-plus years review process in Minnesota included 70 public comment meetings, appellate review and reaffirmation of a 13,500-page environmental impact study, four separate reviews by administrative law judges, and 320 route modifications in response to stakeholder input. LaDuke’s organization, Honor the Earth, was a full participant in this process.
Thirty tribes took part in the project consultation process with the Army Corps of Engineers. The Line 3 Replacement Project included a first-of-its kind Tribal Cultural Resource Survey led by the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa who managed review of the more than 330-mile route in Minnesota through the 1855, 1837 and 1863-64 treaty areas. Fond du Lac employed tribal cultural experts who walked the full route identifying and recording significant cultural resources to be avoided. As a result of this survey, 60 tribally significant cultural locations were identified and recommended for further avoidance, mitigation treatments or tribal monitoring, all of which were adopted into project plans.
In terms of environmental justice, Enbridge has spent well over $300 million Line 3 project dollars specifically with tribal nations, citizens, communities, and contractors. Native American workers made up 7% of the workforce on Line 3.
Regarding climate change, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission considered this in their decision granting Line 3 its Certificate of Need and concluded that emissions from the ultimate consumption of oil transported on Line 3 do not result from the replaced pipeline, but instead from the continued demand for crude oil to produce refined products used by consumers. “The record evidence does not support a conclusion that denial of the certificate of need will significantly reduce demand for crude oil.
Instead, the evidence establishes that the most likely result of denial will instead be increased transport of crude oil via more dangerous means such as rail and continued use of the deteriorating Existing Line 3.”
The assertion that “Enbridge secured 5 billion gallons of water during a drought” is another representation categorically false. According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, neither the original permit for temporary trench dewatering nor the June 4, 2021 amendment allow water to be removed from surface water bodies, including seasonal wetlands. And Enbridge worked with state agencies to reuse and conserve water during the project.
Claims that Enbridge somehow directed police are absolutely false. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission did not want the expenses associated with protests to overwhelm small communities. So as a condition for Line 3’s route permit commissioners required Enbridge to fund a public safety escrow account, managed by an independent account manager hired by the state. Claims for reimbursement go to and decisions about payment come from the account manager – not Enbridge. Police make decisions about public safety – not Enbridge. People who protested peacefully were not arrested.
Regarding claims about insurance, it is important to recognize that, in the unlikely event of a release from our facilities, Enbridge will be responsible for its clean-up regardless of our ability to later recover costs under an insurance policy. Keep in mind that Enbridge maintains significant amounts of insurance and is appropriately insured for its operations
It’s Enbridge’s responsibility to transport the energy people rely on daily -- and pipelines like Line 3 are the safest, most efficient means of transporting energy. It is also our responsibility to do what we can to address climate change. That is why we’ve set a target of net-zero emissions by 2050 and laid a credible path to achieving it. Keeping energy safe and affordable for all our families as we work through this energy transition is perhaps something we can all agree on – and not fight over.
Lorraine Little is director of community engagement for Enbridge, Duluth.