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As we continue with the ongoing and increasingly horrific climate catastrophes, just thought I’d give a bit of insights for your consideration.

As you regular readers know, this blog has written much about Line 3 – now Line 93 as Enbridge says they are already pushing tar sands through it… regardless of the fact that there are many water issues remaining to be resolved, perhaps most significantly, the aquifer breach adjacent to the Enbridge Clearbrook Terminal, which has been leaking since January… and there appears to be no immediate remedy in sight.

Ron Turney of Indigenous Environmental Network has put together some amazing drone footage covering the problems, for which the Minnesota DNR and Pollution Control Agency (those agencies charged with managing our natural resources to assure clean land, air, and water for all) seem to have no care or time.

Aquifer Breach at Enbridge’s Clearbrook Terminal – leaking since January 21, 2021 with no remediation progress in sight. Photo Credit: Ron Turney

Watch the Line MN has a great “Guest Blog: Former pipeline inspector raises serious questions about the effectiveness of the current regulatory system” this week:

It’s unfortunate that humans can never anticipate all the myriad ways that an accident can occur. But once an accident does occur, PHMSA wants to ensure that the same scenario never happens again. So the agency requires regular inspections on every aspect of the pipeline, from its corrosion control measures to the calculation of maximum allowable pressure within the pipe. And this means a regular and frequent presence of state and federal inspectors traveling the pipeline, poking around pump stations, taking pictures of workers welding, looking through manuals, and sitting in on table-top disaster response drills.

However, the inspection agencies are funded by the pipeline companies, including inspectors’ salaries, office equipment, personal protective equipment, and vehicles for conducting inspections.

If the agencies conducting the inspections are funded by those being inspected, who are the inspectors really working for?

In addition to a flow of oil and funding, there is a flow of personnel. An enormous amount of job-shifting occurs between the inspection agencies and the pipeline companies, similar to the famous revolving door between legislators and lobbyists. That means that pipeline companies get personnel who are fully trained in the regulations—and who also understand how to keep certain issues, even violations, from the eyes of the inspectors. In turn, the inspection agencies sometimes get personnel who might give a pass to certain possibly unsafe practices. …

When an inspector does find a problem, from anything as minor as the company failing to do a timely inspection on an element of the pipeline to something as consequential as causing a death, the inspector may impose a fine. While the regulatory codes are extensive, penalties for violations are small. … They remain comically low compared to the profits that the company rakes in.

Even then, companies argue and litigate over those small fines and penalties. Penalties are often reduced or eliminated altogether.

How effective can an inspection be if the companies don’t face repercussions for bad behavior?

What is the message sent to pipeline companies if the already miniscule slap on the wrist for violations is further reduced?

Enter Enbridge Line 3. Given the amount of scrutiny over pipeline construction, why didn’t Minnesota’s state pipeline inspection agency send increased numbers of inspectors to the construction sites, if only to give the appearance of understanding the public’s concern about the pipeline? Instead of paying for the enhanced “security” during construction, why didn’t Enbridge instead pay for enhanced presence of inspectors, people who are supposed to ensure the safety of the public?

It is clear that Enbridge is beholden to its profits and not to protecting the public. 

Watch the Line MN Guest Blog by a former pipeline inspector

If the Minnesota PUC, MPCA, or DNR HAD required Enbridge to fund added INSPECTION instead of added security, we’d have likely not had an aquifer breach, that happened in January and remains unresolved to this day… and we’d likely not have had so many grandmas and children in hand cuffs by overly aggressive (and financially incentivized) local law enforcement care of Enbridge. [***Thanks to IEN for the footage of the aquifer breach as I continue to not have found the ability to finalize my own footage yet Nice coverage, Simone, Dawn, and Ron.***]

So, while Enbridge fails to clean up their current mess, they are claiming their pipeline is pushing tar sands by 10/3… or was it 10/1? As they appeared to be hydrostatic testing the pipeline in my neighborhood on September 30th this past week… I kinda think that this is really a “Hey, we hit the On-Time Deadline! Bonuses can be paid! (But slow roll those sands as we’re really still building here! Shhh… ‘Substantially’ is where we’re at… not complete. Shhh!) Shareholders, rejoice as we’ll be making money instead of bleeding it!! Hoorah for Enbridge! (Well, we’re still bleeding money on the build with that darn aquifer breach… toughie, that one, eh, but we’re sure we can afford enough grout to seal it closed once we… uh… flow oil? {gulp})…”

Afternoon of 9/30/21… RA-05 portion of the NEW Line 93: 250th Crossing in Clearwater County (Spread 2 of the LR3 project)

Meanwhile, the world is falling apart in so many ways. This week, I’ll give a shout out to Beau of the Fifth Column, who puts it this way when it comes to water shortages in the Southwest. The impacts are staggering… and with the historic droughts… the most severe in paleoclimate and historic records… it MIGHT (maybe?) be a good idea to consider water as a most critical resource. Uh, you know, water? The source of all life?

We are running out of time.”

Beau… in the video noted above.