So I started reading through the recent Line 3 documents once the Petitions for Reconsideration were all added to the docket – Memorial Day Weekend. I’d even made a desperation effort myself at submitting such a request in the minutes before the 4:30 PM deadline on 5/21/20. I simply emailed my request to the Public Utilities Commission’s Executive Secretary – and I was THRILLED to be included on the eDocket!
So, read along with me if you will as I share tidbits that I find interesting… Let’s begin with the PUC’s Order approving the EIS as adequate and approving the Certificate of Need and Route Permit for the project. This was at the top of page 3.
Not sure if you see the immediate red flag… But Condition #1 – removal of exposed segments of Existing Line 3 should be read with some concern I’d think. If the pipeline is supposed to REMAIN UNEXPOSED – FULLY IN THE GROUND – then HTF did these “segments of Existing Line 3” become exposed? Was it IMPROPER MAINTENANCE? Well, if it was, why don’t we just put the horses back in the barn because the cart is BROKEN. WHY oh WHY would we allow a company that is NOT PROPERLY MAINTAINING its CURRENT pipeline to BUILD A NEW ONE???
OK, let’s keep reading… 27 pages to go… Top of page 6 stops me a moment to chuckle – it’s still pretty funny that they put this in writing AS IF it is ADEQUATE. It literally says why it is not by noting it only considered streams that would allow oil to reach Lake Superior within 24 hours… Why? Does oil spilled into the watershed but not into Lake Superior NOT affect the watershed? [Oh, also no mention here yet that the DOC failed to define the watershed in this EIS revision… specifically about the Lake Superior watershed. And they also seem to make it sound as if nine new sites were evaluated but it was ONE additional site – Little Otter Creek… which runs into the St. Louis River… which runs into Lake Superior – ALL these water bodies are IN THE WATERSHED so if they are affected, the watershed is affected, regardless of whether oil gets all the way to Lake Superior.]
Now this! No science, arguments that are dead now (and were on 5/1/20 when this issued). Love that last line… It wouldn’t surprise me if Enbridge asked the PUC to include that “extra” ALJ session just to be able to cement this comment into the Order (and knowing it would be in their back yard so easy to fill with orange shirts and blue jackets. Makes one wonder if there is some kind of caste system to the Enbridge wear. Do worker bees get orange shirts while supervisors get blue jackets?
This is just egregious… NO MENTION that most of those who wanted the Line 3 to be approved worked for Enbridge or were hoping for financial benefit from the project.
On page 12, things get silly. I mean, while the data in February was already showing steady or reducing fossil fuel usage, to release this report on May 1st, when the oil price went to almost ($40)/barrel… Well, that just makes you look stupid. But, maybe they’ll reconsider?
Then we see the MN PUC completely ignore BitCrude as an alternatice… https://www.bitcrude.ca/.
Then, while it ends sounding like a commercial for Enbridge, the safety of the current Line 3 is NOT IN THE PUC’s JURISDICTION.
They go on to discuss all the “compensatory” programs that will make up for the environmental losses, never worrying that the PRISTINE wetlands they were destroying cannot be easily “replaced” by manmade “wetlands”… The Commission, “after carefully reviewing the record concluded that denying the certificate of need would not significantly reduce the demand for crude oil and would therefore not significantly reduce climate change impacts.” But it sure would impact supply and thus, would impact demand – which needs to go DOWN, not UP… [Our children must look at these discussions and wonder how adults got so stupid… If FF use needs to go down, and we need to keep them in the ground, especially Tar Sands, doesn’t it make sense to NOT BUILD ANY MORE TAR SANDS PIPELINES???
And they conclude with this:
Oh, FFS. REALLY??? MEPA says…
How do humans and nature exist in productive harmony if you leak poisons into the waters of the Indigenous Peoples of Minnesota? Shitty try pushing the “support of Leech Lake” as you FUCK OVER ALL THE TRIBES with this NEW Pipeline Corridor.
OK, let’s see what the PUC says about the Parties’ Comments.
Well, that seems like quite a lot of legitimate concerns… What did the Supporters say?
Hmmm… I wonder if some of the materials submitted by FoH were NOT AVAILABLE WHEN THE COURT OF APPEALS REVIEWED THE CASE? There has been a LOT of change in recent years. And, with the Pandemic, we can see that those Shippers and Enbridge are likely gonna be disappointed with their expected worldviews…
What did the PUC decide?
Uh, PUC, don’t know if you recall this but… it’s ENBRIDGE’S JOB to PROVE DEMAND, not Friends of the Headwaters! WHERE is Enbridge’s proof that FoH is WRONG about demand concerns? Remember, this report from the PUC was issued on May 1, 2020. Amid the GLOBAL Pandemic that has shut down not only the oil industry but pretty much LIFE AS WE KNEW IT.
EXPENSE is NOT MINNESOTA’S CONCERN? WHY should WE care if it costs Enbridge MORE to ship by truck or rail? If they are forced to, will they? NO. So… is that demand REALLY so critical? Or it is the requirement that Enbridge make as much money as possible that is driving their arguments? The PUC goes on…
So, again, WTF do we Give A Fuck about efficient and economical concerns of Enbridge’s CUSTOMERS?? Do THEY give a FUCK about our Wild Rice Beds??? Are THEIR needs for profit more critical than those of the PEOPLE OF MINNESOTA for CLEAN WATER? And the PUC Executive Secretary FAILS TO MENTION that that ALJ who concluded no reasonable and prudent alternatives to the Project ALSO RECOMMENDED Replacing the CURRENT LINE 3 IN-TRENCH – basically – NO NEW CORRIDOR, NO NEW ROUTE. Put a New pipeline where your OLD pipeline is… No mention of that… Hmmm. Interesting.
The PUC AGAIN say how IMPORTANT this is for Leech Lake and how DANGEROUS the current Line 3 is… Again, PUC, NOT YOUR FUCKING BALIWICK. THAT IS THE CONCERN of the PHMSA. And actually, there are probably a LOT MORE MN jobs REPAIRING a leaky pipeline and MUCH LESS environmental damage than BUILDING a new one through a largely NEW corridor. Oh, and WHY IS THE CURRENT LINE 3 in SUCH SHITTY SHAPE if ENBRIDGE IS SUCH A GREAT COMPANY who CARES about Safety and the Environment?? If they let THIS pipeline get so old and decrepit, WTF would we expect they wouldn’t DO THAT AGAIN if we give them a chance??? Come On, PUC, This ain’t hard work.
And this is just RIDICULOUS!!! THE CURRENT LINE 3 is PHMSA’s CONCERN!!
- Landowners now have another year until their deadline to decide if Enbridge should remove the OLD Line 3 from their property at decommissioning. ]But I bet they have a number they can throw at you to help you decide to just let them leave it in the ground…]
- Enbridge had to fund the Public Safety Escrow Trust Account by 5/11/2020 – well, at least an initial deposit of $250K – wonder if that happened. And, if it did, can we keep those funds until we decommission and remove Line 3 entirely? You know, just to assure we don’t get left holding the bag?
So… it looks like we’ve given the reigns to the Secretary on this project. You gotta give Seuffert credit – he’s taking charge here but, the writing is REALLY reflective of a rookie.
Now comes the fun part – and the part that isn’t coerced by Enbridge.
OH, YEAH!!! This guy is talking serious stuff! And he ain’t FUCKING AROUND!
A1 is about demand forecast – critical to determining Need and C(1) and C(2) are about societal impacts. His arguments include:
- The record showing that MN refiners ARE getting the oil they need.
- “…we do not have clear, crossexamined evidence in this record of refinery expansion. A forecast that assumes a future of infinite global demand for Western Canadian crude oil is not reasonable.”
- “the absence of a clear, transparent, independent forecast of demand… was a significant shortcoming in the record.”
Commissioner Schuerger goes on to discuss the significant new material available, which “at a minimum, requires a focused contested case to develop the record.” [Oh, be still my heart!!] He notes specifically:
- “significant new information on climate change, and on related public policy, and their impact on demand for oil and its refined products”
- MN action to reduce GHG emissions
- The IPCC 1.5°C report
- MN Executive Order 19-37 establishing a Governor’s Advisory Council on Climate Change
- Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency and Department of Commerce reported “transportation is now the largest source of [greenhouse gas] emissions generated within the borders of Minnesota.” [WAIT FOR IT…]
- The 2018 National Climate Assessment finding that substantial and sustained global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are required to prevent climate change from causing further losses in infrastructure and property, as well as economic growth.
- “significant new information on transportation electrification and its impact on demand for oil and its refined products”
- “The landscape is changing rapidly, and at an accelerating rate. Because these facts have not been made part of the record, none of these developments have been incorporated into the Commission’s analysis of the reliability of the applicant’s demand forecast, or of the effects of state conservation programs, and therefore the Commission’s evaluation of Minn. R. 7853.0130, item A. [Is it weird that this legalese is really turning me on???]
- “Changes to, and continuing efforts to change, the pipeline reservation system materially affect the reliability of evidence that the Commission relies upon” [Here Schuerger uses the Commission’s OWN PREVIOUS conclusion from 9/2/2018 that “governmental initiatives to reduce fossil fuel consumption to address climate change, and expanded adoption of electric vehicles could, in the future, influence whether the type of supply forecast evidence submitted in this case will be sufficient to support conclusions about demand.” REALLY now??? You don’t SAY??? What exactly DO you say, Matt?
- “The Commission is deciding anew whether this certificate of need should be granted, and is not bound by its prior decision to grant it. The Commission is also not bound to make a certificate-of-need decision today based on a record that closed nearly two years ago.15 The reliability of the evidence of demand has been reasonably called into question.16 The Commission should not rely again on a tenuous inference drawn from an aging forecast of supply, given the Commission’s own earlier recognition of the evidence’s weakness as evidence to support a finding of need, and in light of the new evidence available.
- He also calls into question Enbridge’s Apportionment argument – which says their Shippers aren’t getting the needed throughput as “Enbridge is pursuing a change to the terms by which it supplies oil over its mainline pipeline system, to allocation of capacity mostly by long-term contracts.”
- “Not minimizing the cost to consumers of one particular form of energy is not a cognizable adverse effect under Minn. R. 7853.0130, Item A”
- Finally, “The consequences to society are significant and severe”
- This is NOT a “replacement” -HALLELUJIAH! We’ve been saying that this WHOLE TIME!! In fact, he argues this project is an expansion “along a new route in a new corridor. The consequence is that the project has a greater negative effect on the natural and socioeconomic environments than a simple replacement.”
And there are a number of concerns.
- Climate Change effects from the oil transported and delivered by the project would have “significant negative consequences for society.”
- “The project is not consistent with Minnesota policy as established by the Legislature” and Commissioner Schuerger notes that, “by promoting consumption of oil, it will thwart the aims and responsibilities of the state established in many Minnesota energy and environmental policies.
- “Minnesota and its citizens have legal alternatives, if needed, to address the dangers of the existing line.” [We DO???]
In the end, without further contested case proceedings, the Commission cannot reasonably grant a Certificate of Need. And there’s MORE!!
Well, that’s as far as I got in my reading – I’m a few weeks behind but this is a REALLY WONDERFUL READ! I will next look at the many filed requests for Reconsideration and, hopefully the PUC is thoughtfully considering these recently submitted documents. Perhaps we will even get the REAL response warranted by the current global situation of COVID-19, a pending Greateat Depression, and… the ever present Climate Change.