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These past weeks, there has been much communication to the MN Public Utilities Commission on the eDocket regarding the Enbridge Line 3 proposed Tar Sands pipeline, nearly all of it in opposition to the approval of Line 3.  There was also good coverage on Democracy Now! where Winona LaDuke summarized the issue about as completely and concisely as I’ve ever heard.  Her interview, in large part specific to Line 3, starts at the 51:40 mark.  But Honor The Earth and other Environmental groups are not the only ones opposing Line 3 and appealing the PUC’s June decision on Line 3.

The Citizens Acting for Rail Safety opposes the approval of a certificate of need for the Enbridge Energy Line 3 replacement project. [6-22-18]

Citizens Acting for Rail Safety opposes new oil pipelines because:
·  More pipelines will not stop the movement of oil by rail. Rail and pipelines are not interchangeable and play different roles in our energy infrastructure networks. Shippers and refineries will continue to take advantage of the speed and flexibility that freight rail transport offers over pipelines.
·  Expanding oil transportation infrastructure dilutes limited safety resources. Presently, there are not enough independent inspectors to ensure the safety of existing rails, tankers and pipelines. Rather than building new structures, current limited resources should focus on reducing risk to communities from the existing rail and pipeline infrastructure. Pitting oil trains against pipelines is a false choice that may distract communities from pursuing efforts to improve rail safety through
common-sense regulation, while absolving oil and rail industries and regulators of their responsibility for rail safety.
·  Expanding oil transportation infrastructure increases risk to more communities. Pipelines and oil by rail are both dangerous to the communities they impact. Rail may be more likely to spill, but pipeline ruptures are typically larger and more expensive to clean up. Residents, local governments, water resources and the environment are all threatened — starting at the well heads and all along the rail
and pipeline routes, through our prairies, wetlands, watersheds, agricultural lands, native lands, cities, towns, and industrial areas, across our rivers and streams, all the way to the destination refineries and port facilities.
·  Building additional oil infrastructure that will soon be obsolete is short sighted. The United States has a record-breaking glut of crude oil in storage because more is currently extracted than is being used worldwide. Demand for oil is unlikely to reach levels equal to supply as our society transitions to a cleaner economy run on safer and more affordable renewable energy. Many communities across the
country are already successfully resisting efforts to expand oil processing and export facilities served by either pipelines or oil trains.

On 7-20-18, the Department of Commerce Division of Energy Resources issued a letter regarding the PUC’s requirement that Enbridge establish a decommissioning trust fund (an important protection for Minnesotans and the State of Minnesota, and, as such, in the public interest) as a condition of obtaining a certificate of need.  In this letter, the DOC-DER established the many issues with the proposal Enbridge submitted on 7-16-18 and stating:

DOC DER recommends that the Commission not approve the Enbridge July 16
compliance filing as it relates to the decommissioning trust fund condition and order Enbridge to propose a revised decommissioning trust fund proposal that:
•  Is consistent with, and requires no changes to, existing Minnesota and federal law;
•  Includes collections over the expected 50-year life of Line 3 project in Minnesota at least to equal approximately $1.5 billion (USD), as adjusted for inflation;
•  Is not controlled by Enbridge Inc. or any present or future affiliated entity;
•  Is established only for the purpose of deactivating, monitoring, and removing the
pipeline together with remediation of the soil at the time Line 3 is taken out of service in Minnesota; and
•  Includes other provisions as required by the Commission.

And the MN Pollution Control Agency (PCA) is doing their best to assure proper legal proceedings and accountability with their 7-30-18 comments to the PUC:

PCA Response to Enbridge Landowner Choice program 7-30-18A

PCA Response to Enbridge Landowner Choice program 7-30-18B

The Department of Commerce appears to be working hard to prevent Enbridge from building a dirty Tar Sands pipeline through the pristine waters of Northern Minnesota.  The 8-31-18 supplemental filing by the Department of Commerce read as follows:

INTRODUCTION

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (Commission) issued an oral decision on June 28, 2018 granting a Certificate of Need (CN) for the proposed Line 3 Replacement Project (Project). The Commission granted the CN contingent upon Commission review and approval of several modifications or conditions. It is the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s (Department) understanding that, but for the required modifications or conditions, the Commission determined that the record would not support a finding that granting the CN would be more favorable to the public interest than the consequences of denying the CN. In a Notice issued by the Commission on July 11, 2018, the Commission directed the applicant, Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership (Enbridge or the Company) to submit compliance filings on five mandatory CN conditions. In its July 11, 2018 Notice, the Commission also requested the Department make recommendations on whether the Commission should approve or modify the Company’s compliance filings.

In its August 10, 2018 supplemental recommendations, the Department concluded that the Company’s current general liability (GL) insurance coverage applicable to the Enbridge U.S. Mainline System, includes significant exclusions for insurance coverage related to damages caused by a crude oil spill. Further, the Department recommended that the Commission not approve the compliance filing to the extent that Enbridge intends to rely on its current policy language to cover the Project because Enbridge’s current policies do not adequately protect the public interest.

ENBRIDGE’S CURRENT INSURANCE COVERAGE IS DEFICIENT

As summarized in its August 10 filing, the Department concluded that the GL insurance policies of Enbridge and Enbridge Inc. applicable to the Enbridge U.S. Mainline system and, potentially, a new Line 3,1 are deficient because the coverage terms contain significant exclusions related to damages caused by crude oil spills.2 [TRADE SECRET HAS BEEN EXCISED]. In the Department’s assessment, the policies do not cover damages from crude oil spills to any significant degree, if at all.

MOST OF THE REST OF THIS SECTION IS [TRADE SECRET HAS BEEN EXCISED] – so much so that it’s not really intelligible so the public is largely in the dark on the details of why their coverage is deficient.  We can only go by what the DOC has given us in the Introduction and Conclusion, which is pretty damning…

CONCLUSION

Enbridge has provided its currently-applicable GL insurance policies in response to Department information requests related to Enbridge’s compliance filing regarding a condition for a CN for the Project. It is Enbridge’s burden – not the Department’s – to demonstrate that the terms of its GL insurance policies will provide coverage consistent with the Commission’s order. This supplemental filing was submitted in response to an information request seeking the underlying analysis of the Department’s August 10 recommendations. Consistent with its filings on July 30 and August 10, 2018, the Department continues to conclude that Enbridge Inc.’s current GL insurance coverage applicable to the Enbridge U.S. Mainline System and, potentially, a new Line 3, include significant exclusions for insurance coverage related to damages caused by a crude oil spill. Enbridge’s current policies with the exclusions and other limiting language will not comply with the terms and conditions in the Department’s insurance recommendations. Therefore, the Department continues to recommend that the Commission not approve the Company’s compliance filings related to the insurance condition.

But I’m not sure what Fond du Lac Band is thinking with their action. The Fond du Lac/Enbridge announcement looked like this:

I think Elizabeth Oppenheimer sums up the offer to the Indigenous accurately in her letter to the DOC urging the PUC to move to investments in renewables:

Oppenheimer Letter1

Oppenheimer Letter2

On September 11th, the PUC will address:

What action should the Commission take concerning the certificate of need
modifications compliance filing filed by Enbridge on July 16, 2018, in accordance with
the Commission’s forthcoming Order? (PUC: Ek, Bahn)

What does this mean?

  • The September 11, 2018 Commission Agenda will focus on the modifications to the certificate of need as ordered by the Commission. Specifically, whether Enbridge’s July 16 Compliance Filing on the certificate of need modifications provided the type of additional detail the Commission requested.
  • The Commission has not yet issued its order concerning its decision on the certificate of need for the Line 3 Replacement project.
  • The Commission’s September 11 Agenda meeting will be webcast. You can watch here.
I’m feeling up and down on this issue.  I keep hoping that the Commissioners will pull their heads from their butts and see through Enbridge’s BS, but I fear that their decision is already bought and paid for and there is nothing much We the People can do to change it.  Hence, we need to keep calling Governor Dayton.  We need him to do all he can to STOP LINE 3 NOW.
As I indicated, there were many public comments, almost all in opposition to Line 3.  This may be my favorite letter I saw and I hope the PUC Commissioners are considering it:
PUC commissioners:
I’m a 65-year old retired white guy. Hardly the stereotypical radical environmentalist.
I’ve hunted, fished, hiked, and boated across this great state for 40 years. I feel like you’ve betrayed my trust when you voted to allow a foreign corporation to make more profit at the risk of jeopardizing the natural resource that define our state.
I didn’t think greed, money, and corporate interests always won out over public welfare.
Maybe in Texas, but I thought Minnesota was different. Now I’m not so sure. Maybe I should have joined the ranks of those environmental “radicals” a long time ago.
As I interpret your decision, you chose to risk “pristine” parts of the state to protect the existing pipeline corridor. Someone will have to help me understand the logic of this decision.
I wish you would realize a consequence to your actions. I wish you could be forced to wade in — bathe in? — the first oil spill to gain a better appreciation for what you’ve done. It’s just a matter of time.
But seriously, how do you sleep at night?
Mike Prouty
And this may be my favorite excerpt from a letter:
In short, Fuck all of you that voted for this, you have wasted everyone’s time by this bullshit delay to act like you actually were going to hold Enbridge to a high standard and say no to business demands of the fossil fuel industry. When this industry does go belly up, the people of MN will again have to foot the bill. This agreement negotiated by the PUC is pathetic and an embarrassment and held Enbridge to a stunningly low bar for a multi-national multi-billion dollar company.
Yeah, I’m with that guy.