It’s hard to say what has been most frustrating about my life as an activist but perhaps it’s the freaking absurdity of what continues to sell like hotcakes? Against all logic. Even though the deception can be discovered with the least bit of scrutiny? 🧐
Regardless of whether it is Big Pharma, our government, or Big Oil, my concerns about the players are finding themselves on solid ground. The proof continues to emerge on Enbridge’s Line 93 construction failures (while state agencies continue to remain silent on these as-yet-unreported concerns) and data keeps coming to light on the adverse impacts of the mRNA vaccines.
While it can be difficult to face the blowback from those who are not yet discerning the bullshit, I’ll continue to speak truth as I discover it. And I’ll be ever grateful for those who are willing to discuss life matters openly… to find truth together.
This past week shows recent concerns being wrangled:
1. The news on vaccines continues to come. None of it good, sadly, for those who’ve been inoculated with mRNA.
While we can’t expect the same here in the US, it was good to see the addressing of medical issues from vaccination in the UK. I like how he says government is supposed to be “of, by, and for the people”…. and data shouldn’t have to be pulled, like teeth, by Freedom of Information Act requests. It should just be given. Indeed. And on the Enbridge’s failures as well? Figuring out the oligarchy yet? And how it is killing us… Sometimes slowly with pollution, sometimes by the millions with an escaped gain of function research virus… And sometimes a jab at a time? FFS. Good luck, everybody.
Adverse impacts from vaccines resulting in death. It didn’t have to be this way…Standard payment of ₺120,000 provided by UK government! In the U.S., it’s best to not count on any reimbursement. Don’t count on even any acknowledgement of possible vaccine in jury? FFS. The government is still PROMOTING VACCINATION! For BABIES!
New WHO TreatyAnd what might go wrong with giving the WHO even MORE CONTROL over pandemic response? After they failed so miserably on Coronavirus? Note: Within a few months, the UK has gone from inoculating babies… to restricting the Covid vaccines to ONLY those over 75. Will the U.S. follow this lead? Nah! Too many profits to be had!! Plus, Carbon Reduction Power!!
And today’s word: Miscarriage and stillbirths Again, more requirements for requesting specific data, rather than it being included for a FOIA. What are they hiding so thoroughly? The apparent lack of data since 2020 is QUITE DISTURBING. [Video comments are really horrifying on this one. Lots of anecdotal evidence shared. This was telling: “My wife and I chose not to take the vaccine and had a healthy baby boy 2 weeks ago. While at the hospital 2 nurses commented on how wonderful it was to finally have a woman come in without hypertension and a baby that wasn’t underweight. They said Covid causes that and that’s why they’re only just seeing these issues now. I’m sure the US government has data relating hypertension in pregnant women to the vaccine and id be very curious to see it”]
2. Even the Aspen Institute is now a Propaganda Program!! For crying out loud. Next thing you know Fox News will be telling more truth than MPR? 🧐 Lots of shake ups in MSM this week, eh? Feels collapse is nearer every day and we’ll only know about it if we’re watching alternative media. Perhaps you can check out these tidbits to learn more?
Really, ALL HER STUFF IS GOOD. This is the latest… The Empire Of HypocrisyThe US is raging about Russia jailing a Wall Street Journal reporter on espionage charges, while the US is: 1) Jailing Julian Assange for doing good journalism. 2) Threatening to imprison Matt Taibbi. 3) Charging African People’s Socialist Party members with “propaganda” crimes. (Just to bring these links full circle? If you only have 2 minutes – listen to this one from 2:15…)
3. Industry failures that result in Environmental damages:
The Findings on the Keystone XL Failure in KansasThe overriding concern in day to day life here at the HARN is when Enbridge’s Line 93 might fail. With aquifer breaches throughout Clearwater County along its corridor, the most frightening place for failure is either LaSalle Valley or, my best guess, Walker Brook Valley. With this just in on the Keystone Pipeline failure last year, Walker Brook feels more likely every day. Fatigue is an obvious problem with a pipeline resting in a bog that is constantly rising and lowering with fluctuating water levels, eh?
Meanwhile… ‘They’re destroying us’: Indigenous communities fear toxic leaks from Canada oil industryHow many more signs of failure by industry, how many more tornados or hurricanes or floods, how many more puzzle pieces of horror will it take for humanity to see we’re pushing the limits and literally destroying the sources needed for our survival. (If you laughed once at those Easter Island photos as a kid… might want to look real hard in the mirror next chance you get.)
4. How capitalism works…
Love this dude Matthew DesmondWhy the rich keep getting richer and the poor keep dying. Poor die at a rate of 500/day… Just because they are poor. Being poor is REALLY EXPENSIVE. SO MANY RULES that create strive for the poor while giving more help to the rich. Guess the rich got better bootstraps?
Pamphlet #13: On Community Civil Disobedience in the Name of Sustainability Our laws are not designed for environmental rights… or workers’ rights for that matter!! Educate yourself on your own disenfranchisement? If you want to do something about all the madness?
We’ve heard orchids are fragile and take long years to bloom, yet here in Minnesota’s harsh winter climate we revered their beauty so, we made the Showy Lady Slipper our state flower. And we have many scenic byways where everyone can enjoy their beauty as they often thrive in the wet ditches along our roadways. If you haven’t seen them, make plans to do so. And act quick because the state road projects are ignoring them… Leading to their destruction… at quite the pace now.
So why doesn’t the state of Minnesota care for and protect this flower we profess to hold in such high regard?
Instead, MN Department of Transportation seems hell bent on spending our tax dollars in destroying the beauty of our state, giving away the Tree Nation relatives to the best bidding logger for his troubles, and assuring the vacationers stop coming because…
Why bother? Nothing special to see here anymore.
It seems the Department of Transportation has figured out a way to prevent fatalities along Highway 34! …a problem most of us didn’t even realize was a problem we face. Because we don’t.
Their solution involves the culling of thousands of trees along a 7-mile stretch of Scenic Byway through the Smokey Hills State Forest. (Forest, you know, as in TREES.) As part of this tree clear cutting, they will remove stumps and regrade the ditch. This is the part that eliminates the Ladyslippers.
I didn’t know much about these flowers before moving to Minnesota but definitely recall my first sighting. I was with my mom at the edge of Lake Itasca in our gem of a state park, which hosts the Headwaters of the Mississippi. She’s the one who found them and when I saw the beauty I was stunned. What soft pink color, flowing curves, and a little spot where sometimes you might find a spider or some other being enjoying in a closer view. If I was small enough I’d sure want to climb inside and see what’s happening in there! What more lovely cavern of beauty could a spider wish?
As a resident along County 2 in Clearwater County, I watched a few years ago as the County widened our road and extended their easement far to each side, clear-cutting the beauty along this scenic drive info Itasca State Park from U.S. Highway 2. Only two of us fought the easement request, saving many trees. It’s one of my proudest accomplishments since moving to Minnesota.
As my neighbor put it, “if I wanted to live on the plains of North Dakota I would have bought a house in North Dakota.”
As the project was state-funded, it required the deep cuts to the sides of the road, clearing the beauty of the trees, reportedly to allow people to avoid crashes, by being better able to see deer. Also, it process, destroying the fragile habitat of the Ladyslippers.
The result is that while we may still be living on a Scenic Byway, we no longer live in a scenic landscape. This is in part because in addition to culling most of the trees, the state also allowed Enbridge Incorporated to build a tar sands pipeline adjacent to the “Scenic drive“. This video depicts what we hope will not be the fate of those living along Highway 34, as Joeb assured me there would be no burn piles with this project. It depicts the destruction of clear-cutting we witnessed along County 2. (Now in addition to fewer trees you see more erosion barrier, still present almost a year and a half post-Enbridge Line 93-construction. I just found out last week the damages aren’t seen as “permanent” until 5 years. I’m sure all the erosion barrier will have grown into the habitat by then so the visual damages will be gone? Yet the damage remains. And continues.)
When I spoke with MNDoT on this Highway 34 clearcut I was told the Scenic Byway designation would remain. Yet I asked Joeb Oyster, project manager for the Highway 34 resurfacing:
“My guess is that the reason this was named a Scenic Byway is because of the trees. … Will it really be a scenic byway, for which to designate?”
When the County 2 project was being revealed, several of us met with the County Engineer Dan Sauve at the public meeting asking him what would be done to save the Ladyslippers. He expressed no concern for the flowers saying only, if we wanted to remove them, we were welcome to do so. So we did!
Dozens of us, in the summers before construction, were out there taking hundreds of these beauties to new homes in hopes we can restore the ditches by returning them post-construction. It seems these days if there’s anything you’d like done in your community you best do it yourself.
And if there’s anything you want protected you best do that yourself too because the state isn’t working for protection on our behalf. I’m not sure who they’re listening to exactly, but it’s not the people who have lived here, whether for generations or millennia, or just a few years like me.
A simple solution, perfect for a scenic tree-lined drive – a few informative speed limit signs – could do the trick. Yet did the state consider this? Apparently this idea was beaten out by an idea that culling trees on the south side of the road – at a cost of millions of dollars to taxpayers – will save money in chemical costs because with the trees gone, they won’t need so much salt in winter.
If you’ve passed 3rd grade, you likely see the folly in their plan. You know about the low angle of the sun in winter… and how it would mean hundreds of feet of trees would need cut. Even if this idea was one that made sense, it would be destructive beyond belief virtually eliminating any Scenic on the Byway.
If you’ve passed high school economics, you likely realize it’s gonna take an awful lot of salt savings to make up for, what is it now, almost $16M in logging costs?!? That’s a WHOLE LOT OF SALT!
And what of those vacationers? The ones who used to come here to see the Ladyslippers? Their dollars will be spent elsewhere as we create a dull and lifeless Minnesota.
How’s that helping out children, Tim Walz? Clear-cutting their landscape. Ever hear of Easter Island? The more I watch, the less I can judge those Easter Islanders. Our “leaders” and “managers”, charged with protecting our natural resources, are giving them away as they clearcut more each year. And to what end?
I don’t know if you’ve driven many of the roads in Minnesota, but I’m sure I’ve seen stretches of wide open road – not a tree in sight – and still… A snow and ice encrusted reality!
I have to say their solution is likely to create even more of the problem they were trying to avoid in the first place. The only thing I’ve noticed on County 2 since they widened the road and stripped the easement from trees is that people drive as if they are now on an open runway: faster than ever.
At a meeting with the public last night in Detroit Lakes, we learned of all the ways not only MNDoT but also the Federal Highway Administration have FAILED to follow proper protocols that include working with Scenic Byway folks to adhere to their rules regarding Scenic Byways, which this stretch of Highway 34 in the Smokey Hills is currently designated.
Why is it -with this much public opposition, including Tribal Nation voices – that the agencies, state and federal, refused to meet with the public? They were all invited to the public hearing last night, but refused to attend and hear the near 150 voices that quickly mustered on a Tuesday evening to hear what is happening to our world.
Trees = Pipelines?
I heard yesterday of training given at the Minnesota DNR for their employees. It seems they tell their people that, if they are approached by citizens who ask about pipelines, the Department of Natural Resource policy is to NOT ENGAGE.
Maybe Minnesota Department of Transportation has a similar policy for citizens who ask about the Trees?
I’m reposting this blog (originally published 3/15/21) because I realize it’s fine. [Even though I pulled it a while back (because I was thinking it was a pre-version of the blog that posted on 3-17-21.] I should have known the 15th was it… Monday and all. anyhoo, I just left the other blog up since it was good enough. So here it is again… and then some… as I take a break today. This one really deep dives into the Consent Decree… and it also congratulated Deb Haaland and… thanks the folks who make this blog possible… and that includes You. 😍
So how on Earth did Minnesota end up approving Enbridge to build a Tar Sands pipeline… as the oil industry is massively divesting from and abandoning Tar Sands assets? Science for the People issued a video giving us part of the story. In it, you can see the process and the deceptions that led to an illegal and erroneous approval of a tar sands pipeline through some of Minnesota’s best remaining waters.
Key to the Enbridge spin, though kept largely under wraps until more recently, is their misrepresentation of a 2017 Federal Consent Decree made between Enbridge and the US Government. While Enbridge purports that the Decree REQUIRED them to DECOMMISSION their current Line 3 and BUILD a New Line 3… it’s not quite that simple.
We ordered Enbridge to SEEK a replacement for Line 3, not that permits be given. State Agencies must still conduct all reviews and follow applicable regulations. We’ve implemented some restrictions to the current Line 3 and additional requirements should Enbridge fail to secure said permits.”
This blog gives a bit more of a high level explanation on how things went wrong regarding understandings of the Consent Decree and also a deep dive into the Decree for those more curious to get into the weeds.
Here’s the basics if you want the cliff notes version:
The Consent Decree is a settlement agreement crafted, over a half dozen years, by and between Enbridge and the U.S. Government (on behalf of the EPA and the Coast Guard who protect our environment and waters) to allow Enbridge’s continued operation of pipelines after a couple BIG, QUICK failures (6/25/10 near Marshall, Michigan and two months later, near Romeoville, Illinois).
The agreement literally says: “Enbridge shall replace… Line 3… provided that Enbridge receives all necessary approvals to do so.” The problem? Enbridge convinced Minnesota officials and regulators, media and citizens, with a campaign that this “required Line 3 be replaced.” No matter what. Implying approvals were required. [Did no one find it ironic that a company whose pipelines were found to be inadequate would use THAT FAILURE as an excuse for another opportunity to… fail with a NEW pipeline?]
If the Courts rule the approvals were not legal, as challenged by many parties against multiple Minnesota Agencies and Commissions, all the current Line 3 construction would be illegal as well. The parties arguing against the project include the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which has alleged for years that there is no Need for the project. Cases begin arguments next week.
Bottom line: While the Decree required Enbridge to seek replacement Line 3, it added provisions should approval for replacement NOT HAPPEN, including increased inspections, maintenance, and training, along with other actions to prevent recurring failures of Enbridge’s “Lakehead System”. Enbridge seems anxious for those requirements to go away with a New Line 3.
Now let’s deep dive…
You’ve seen it in comments on FB posts, heard it from the PUC as their justification for approving the project, and seen this idea in news reports… that the Federal Consent Decree “ordered” Enbridge to replace an “unsafe” Line 3.
Enbridge Energy said Biden’s decision on Keystone will have no impact on Line 3 or a similar Line 5 project in Michigan. Unlike the Keystone project, lines 3 and 5 are currently operating, the company said, and the Line 3 replacement was ordered by a consent decree during Obama’s administration.”
Enbridge says the work is necessary for safety reasons, and the company also notes the project passed six years’ worth of permit and regulatory reviews, including dozens of public comment meetings and an Obama-era consent decree.”
“We owe it to future generations, to the Indigenous communities we’ve signed treaties with, and to every living being on this planet to stop building fossil fuel infrastructure,” Omar tweeted during the day. …
Enbridge Energy spokeswoman Juli Kellner told the Pioneer on Sunday that the projects differ as, “unlike Keystone XL, Line 3 is a currently operating pipeline and its replacement was ordered by a federal consent decree during the Obama Administration.”
And even U.S. District Court Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly seemed to be confused by it mentioning it in her ruling for the Tribes request for a 404 Injunction on the Line 3 project.
Overall, the Court finds the balance of harms and public interest considerations to be a close call. Plaintiffs offer numerous examples of potential environmental harms stemming from the Project’s construction. But the Corps presents persuasive evidence that delaying construction—and in doing so, continuing to rely on Existing Line 3 which Enbridge is required to decommission pursuant to its Consent Decree—also causes ongoing environmental harm and safety risks. And, as noted above, the Court cannot ignore the potential financial losses and harmful economic effects on the local community if construction on the Project were to be delayed. Taking into account all these considerations, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have not definitely tipped the scale in their favor.”
The Judge failed to grasp that the Consent Decree ALSO allowed for additional safety measures while that process unfolded, to assure safety, which is legally in the hands of Enbridge and PHMSA (Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration). Enbridge testified that Line 3 was capable of running safely indefinitely IF a “replacement” were not approved. Judge Kollar-Kotelly fails to see her own circular argument, continuing the Enbridge spin for a “replacement” pipeline to simply be handed to them.
So what is the truth? Did the Obama administration’s Consent Decree Order the Replacement of Line 3? The answer is complex. And that’s how Enbridge has apparently successfully deceived the State of Minnesota.
It seems clear to me that Minnesota Media has become beholden to the Enbridge half-page ads that provide revenue as they drink their messaging kool-aid, rarely investigating (or even asking the opposition parties really) on the bigger questions. Not sure why else they would have remained so silent throughout this process… rarely sharing the scientific facts and promoting the Enbridge narrative. And limiting – for years now – the voices of Minnesota citizens themselves, showing that most of us oppose this project.
A consent decree is an agreement or settlement that resolves a dispute between two parties without admission of guilt (in a criminal case) or liability (in a civil case), and most often refers to such a type of settlement in the United States.
Consent Decree – Wikipedia [Because here in the US we are quick to assure that rich, guilty people (or in this case, a Canadian corporation – same thing if you ask the US Supreme Court…) don’t get tarred with the dirtiness of their acts? While we still get some bit of compensation for them? It’s like a game: You’re guilty but we’re gonna pretend you’re not if you just make some promised amends going forward!]
First, filed on behalf of the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and United States Coast Guard (USCG), it sets as Plaintiff the United States of America and the Defendants as a list of nine Enbridge parties (LLCs created for a variety of reasons… mostly, I believe, to avoid financial consequences or burdens that result from not creating additional LLCs).
The complaint alleges that Defendants own and operate the Enbridge Mainline System – one of the world’s largest pipeline systems with more than 3,000 miles of pipeline corridors in the United States and Canada. The complaint asserts claims against Enbridge under the Clean Water Act Sections 309, which grants Federal Enforcement Authority, and 311 (along with other statutes and regulations):
CWA § 311(c)(2) authorizes the President (delegated to EPA for discharges in the inland zone, as defined in the NCP), to direct all Federal, State, and private action to remove a discharge or to mitigate or prevent a substantial threat of discharge of oil or a hazardous substance that is a substantial threat to the public health or welfare of the United States. This authority includes responding to discharges or a substantial threat of discharges from a vessel, offshore facility, or onshore facility.
Why the complaint, you might ask? [As a general FYI, much of the below is for thoroughness. You who seek specifics on the Line 3 replacement details can skip to Section Heading: So what exactly does the Consent Decree say about Line 3? for a quicker read.]
Because of Enbridge’s 2010 unlawful discharges of oil from two Lakehead system pipelines. The first was from a rupture on Line 6B near Marshall, Michigan on July 25, 2010 which over two days repeatedly discharged harmful quantities of oil to the navigable waters of the United States, including Talmadge Creek and the Kalamazoo river and adjoining shorelines. The second spill, occurring two months later, when Enbridge’s Line 6A developed a large leak near Romeoville, Illinois discharging harmful quantities of oil to navigable waters of the United States, including an unnamed tributary to the Des Plaines River, and adjoining shorelines.
The decree goes on to provide details of the failures, the cleanup efforts, and references to previous natural resources damages (see Background paragraph h in the Consent Decree). Details include costs associated with restoration work and monitoring requirements, along with other settlements.
On a side note: The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the probable cause of the Line 6A Discharges was erosion caused by water jet impingement from a leaking 6-inch diameter water pipe located 6 inches below the Line 6A pipe and that interruption of the cathodic protection currents by the close proximity of the improperly installed water pipe contributed to the discharges. While Enbridge did not own or operate the water pipe, the “NTSB did not issue any safety recommendations to Enbridge or any other entity concerning the Line 6A Discharges.” Gee, wonder how problems keep happening? FFS.
The Consent Decree notes that subsequent to the 2010 spills, Enbridge took several actions [skip if too weedy for your tastes… or read just my emphasized comments bold, bracketed and/or italicized?]:
Pursuant to a corrective action order issued by the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Enbridge developed and implemented the “Lakehead Plan” outlining specific actions and timelines for safety improvements to specified pipelines within the Lakehead System, including procedures for ongoing inspection, replacement, and testing of Enbridge’s lines.
Enbridge, rather than repairing Line 6B, replaced the pipeline which had been operating for 43 years. In 2014, Enbridge completed construction of a 285-mile pipeline (“New Line 6B”) to replace the entirety of original Line 6B, thereafter ceasing operations of Original 6B and removing remaining oil from it. [Kind of like they plan to abandon current Line 3? Clear out oil but leave pipe in place?]
Enbridge expanded and improved upon its use of in-line inspection (ILI) for maintaining the Lakehead System pipelines. These are the “pig” tools which identify and size flaws like cracks or corrosion that require excavation and repair. As of 9/2014, Enbridge had completed 180 ILI runs since 2010 with 5,700 associated excavations.
In 2012, after a third oil transmission pipeline known as Line 14 on the Lakehead System ruptured in a pasture near Grand March, Wisconsin [FFS, Enbridge!?!], PHMSA ordered Enbridge to implement various remedial measures, including hydrostatic testing of the pipeline. This testing is mandatory for new pipelines to test where ruptures might occur at unrepaired or undiscovered features. 196 miles of Line 14 were tested in 2012 without a leak or rupture. In accordance with another PHMSA corrective action order, [does Enbridge require PHMSA to order ALL their inspections???] Enbridge also used testing to confirm integrity on 326 miles of Lakehead System Line 2 in 2015.
Enbridge spent $50M since 2010 spills to improve equipment, training, and overall response for spill events on the Lakehead System. In September 2015, Enbridge, EPA and USCG, along with state and local officials, conducted a full-scale exercise to test plans to respond to a spill in the Straits of Mackinac. Enbridge also revised Integrated Contingency Plans (ICPs) for emergency response which were approved by PHMSA and developed Tactical Response plans for specific areas within the Lakehead System, including the Straits of Mackinac. Enbridge also implemented spill response training recommended by U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to improve coordination between the company and government emergency responders. Enbridge also purchased additional emergency response equipment including trailers, boats, portable dam systems, tanks, boom, skimmers, and rig mats. Enbridge also reorganized its emergency management department to improve planning and response capabilities, hiring 20 additional staff that included four Emergency Response Coordinators in its U.S. operations. [Uh, good idea, as they failed so miserably!] They also formed an internal Emergency Response Advisory Team that meets quarterly to ensure emergency preparedness and planning. Enbridge also conducted outreach to the public so they can better recognize warning signs of leaks, potential hazards, and the location of Enbridge pipelines, along with methods of notifying Enbridge of a leak. [As was clear in the 2010 Kalamazoo spill, the response team on the Enbridge end didn’t ‘believe’ it was a real leak after it was reported, resulting in a surge of oil being pushed… instead of the pipeline being shut down.] Also pursuant to another Corrective Action Order by PHMSA, Enbridge installed 55 new remotely controlled valves to reduce potential impacts of spills on certain water crossings. Enbridge also created a role of VP, Enterprise Safety and Operational Reliability and two new committees (Operations and Integrity Committee and Safety Reliability Committee) which include senior executive participation. Finally, Enbridge established a Pipeline Control department with increased staffing dedicated to leak detection, including on-shift personnel dedicated to technical support for pipeline operators and aiding in analysis of leak detection systems. [Maybe now they can figure out that when the public reports a leak, it might BE a leak, and not simply resort to BLOWING out the pipeline in an attempt to dislodge a jam?]
While these corrections are all great, it’s concerning that much of this work wasn’t done at Enbridge’s discretion but only after PHMSA corrective action orders and several major spills. [FFS.]
There is evidence that Enbridge itself seems to grasp the potential dangers as they have, as a part of their final work in the Pipeline Control department, also implemented additional training requirements for operators, such as:
column separation analysis
fatigue management (not sure if this is operator fatigue or metal fatigue)
And they now require “semi-annual control room personnel team training that includes a focus on allowing operators to recognize and respond to unexpected conditions that may arise on the Enbridge system, including leaks alarms from the SCADA or MBS systems.” There is also specific mention of actions regarding the Straits of Mackinac:
“regular inspections using ILIs , divers, and remotely-operated vehicles to confirm integrity of Line 5 in the Straits”
increased “frequency of inspections and pipeline repairs above and beyond what is otherwise required by law” and
“partnering with Michigan Technological University to develop new technology that will aid in inspecting the line.”
Resolution of the Complaint is noted to be made by (in addition to civil penalties paid by Enbridge and reimbursement of the US relating to Line 6B discharges) the measures set forth in Section VII of this Decree.
So… what is Decreed in Section VII?
“The obligations of this Consent Decree apply to and are binding upon the United States, and upon Enbridge and any successors, assigns, or other entities or persons otherwise bound by law. … No transfer of ownership or operation … shall relieve Enbridge of its obligations to ensure that the terms of this Decree are implemented.” Enbridge shall require that third-parties and contractors flow down these same requirements to subcontractors.
Injunctive Measures – Section VII of the Consent Decree
We’ll return momentarily to Section B Replacement of Line 3 (pages 25-28), our main concern. [Sorry, it’s a customary process to hold the best bits until the end, eh? Though I did give you that short bullet point version so, no whining, right?!?]
First a bit on the Consent Decree as a whole. NOTE: “Except as specifically provided in this Consent Decree, requirements of this Section VII shall apply to all of the Lakehead System.”
Section A of the Injunctive Measures, Original US Line 6B, notes that Enbridge is “permanently enjoined from operating or allowing anyone else to operate Original US Line 6B for the purposes of transporting oil, gas, diluent, or any hazardous substance.” The meat of the Consent Decree consists of details regarding Hydrostatic Pressure Testing (Section C pages 28-30), inspections and dig requirement details (Section D pages 30-74), and 5 pages dedicated in Section E to the Measures to Prevent Spills in the the Straits of Mackinac. [This and other requirements are the reason for five subsequent modifications to the Consent Decree to report details and changes, none of which affect Section VII B.]
Section F discusses Data Integration (pages 80-83) and Section G the Leak Detection and Control Room Operations details (pages 83-110), with Section G III detailing “Requirements for New Lakehead Pipelines and Replacement Segments” that calls out specific equipment required to mitigate spill prevention.
Section H discusses Spill Response and Preparedness (pages 110-124) and Section I, New Remotely Controlled Valves (on Lines 5, 6A, and 14; pages 124-125). Section J details the Independent Third Party Consent Decree Compliance Verification ordered (pages 126-136).
So what exactly does the Consent Decree say about Line 3?
Did you catch that key phrase… “provided that Enbridge receives all necessary approvals to do so.”
This is really the crux of the matter, as the PUC and others in Minnesota government have seemingly been persuaded by Enbridge to believe, the US Government “ordered” the replacement of Line 3.
While those words are not untrue, they are not the entire story.
In fact, the United States has ordered Enbridge to “seek all approvals necessary for the replacement of Original US Line 3″. They were ordered to “provide approval authorities with complete and adequate information needed to support such approvals.” However, we can show that Enbridge has been less than forthcoming with their information provided to authorities – including pipeline capacity expansions and EIS information that was gleaned of significant factors that would have provided reason for DENIAL.
[If you go to the letter of the law, does that mean they only were to provide information to SUPPORT the approvals, and not to DENY the approvals? Is that how Enbridge justified their inaccuracies provided to State agencies and commissions? Maybe that is the insane legal authority Enbridge is claiming? Does any reasonable person see that as reasonable? This shit gets deep sometimes, y’all.] Keep in mind though…
The ORDER cannot be used as rationalization for the pipeline approvals as that would imply that the Federal Government has jurisdiction and authority over the State of Minnesota that it DOES NOT.
And if the Consent Decree is the REASON for approvals, then we can see the circular certainty of Enbridge’s approvals. That appears to be exactly what has happened.
While Enbridge worked on getting said approvals, there remain some further restrictions. “Until decommissioning, … Enbridge shall limit the operating pressure in each segment of Original US Line 3.”
And what if they don’t secure approvals for a replacement pipeline? The Feds have an answer for that too!
If Enbridge has not taken all portions of Original US Line 3 out of service by December 31, 2017, Enbridge shall comply with the additional requirements set forth below:
1. On an annual basis with the exception of the final year of service for the Original US Line 3, Enbridge shall complete valid ILIs of all portions of Original US Line 3 that Enbridge continues to operate, using the most appropriate tools for detecting, charactering (sic), and sizing all of the following: Crack Features, Corrosion Features, and Geometric Features;
2. Enbridge shall identify, excavate and mitigate or repair all Features Requiring Excavation detected in the ILIs required pursuant to Subparagraph 22.d.(1), in accordance with the requirements of Subsection VII.D; and
3. Enbridge shall clean all portions of Original US Line 3 that Enbridge continues to operate and shall use biocide treatments to reduce microbiological activity on a quarterly basis.
“Meanwhile… and likely BECAUSE of the Federal Consent Decree Section VII which added inspection requirements for Enbridge’s current Line 3 pipeline:
Line 3 has spilled only 66 gallons in the last dozen years! Well under 2 barrels!! Are we really willing to risk destruction of so much valuable natural infrastructure to get better than that – less than 2 barrels in over a decade?
In fact, the current Line 3 may very well be out-performing new pipelines because it is operating under a Consent Decree from the United States government, which requires Enbridge to fully inspect every inch of their Original Line 3each year – inspection only required every five years for new pipelines. Original Line 3 is the devil we KNOW. Intimately. Enbridge knows every inch of that pipeline and gets to know it better – as well ashow it is changing over time – as they perform the thorough annual inspections mandated under the Federal Consent Decree.
Perhaps with the Confirmation of Deb Haaland… we will see some action this week.
Congratulations, Deb!! Our FIRST Native Cabinet Member – far too late, but… WE READY!!!!
P.S. BIG Thanks to all who helped make this blog possible. My ever-patient and helpful husband Dan for reading and re-reading blogs each week, Friends who gave input and ideas and helped with my understanding (you all know who you are…), and a special thanks to Shannon Peterson for trudging through the draft version and making a WAY Better end product and FB post.
P.P.S. STILL sending big thanks to all the many friends and allies that keep me going week by week.
As Dan and I made our way home from Nagaajiwanaang (Fond du Lac Reservation) on New Year’s Eve, I felt wonderful Peace.
It seems I’ve done all I can in the past year to bring good, find solutions, offer my help, and do my best to win*. And it was good to feel that success alongside good friends and collaborators who are so supportive.
This is a blog post about the letter I wrote last week to 55th Chief of Engineers, Lieutenant General Spellmon, of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding my concerns on Enbridge’s Line 3/93, especially here in Clearwater County. I meet with the County Commissioners tomorrow to review these concerns and discuss response readiness.
Boozhoo, Lieutenant General Spellmon,
I’m a retired Metallurgical Engineer writing from 1855 Treaty Territory regarding growing concerns for the current Enbridge worksite at Walker Brook in Clearwater County, Minnesota. These concerns were only heightened by the December 7 Keystone pipeline rupture at Mill Creek, a geography so similar to ours with a creek adjacent to an uphill pipeline corridor. We appreciate the work you are doing there in response to the latest Keystone pipeline failure. We are hopeful to prevent a need for similar response at our location, which geologically is far more water-filled and unstable than that of the Kansas plains.
We’ve been watching Walker Brook valley with concern since early August when we noticed Enbridge’s timber matting access road had been reinstalled west of Clearwater County 110. In late August, my partner discovered an open hole above the pipeline corridor and we began watching this place even more closely. [47-degrees, 47-minutes, 63-seconds, and -95-degrees, 28-minutes, 35-seconds.]
This photo shows upwelling as indicated by surface ripples. Since then, we’ve taken several hikes in to monitor and test at this location, concerned about impacts to the land and water quality.
Located within a 399-acre section of state tax land and County Memorial Forest, this crossing of Enbridge’s Line 3/93 pipeline at Walker Brook is in a precarious valley of deep glacial till and forested peatbog very similar to LaSalle Valley, where Enbridge is also currently struggling to remediate multiple upwelling water locations. These two valleys are like mirror images of each other on either side of the Mississippi River Line 3/93 crossing, where Enbridge experienced multiple frac-outs into the large wetlands of Mississippi River headwaters. This is clearly a fragile geology, full of water, which opponents to the Line 3 project testified was too much of a risk for a Tar Sands pipeline project.
We see now, that heeding citizen warnings would have been prudent. The applicant’s route was a bad idea that was not given enough geotechnical or hydrological study to assure prevention of avoidable tragedies. We remain disappointed that the USACE refused to perform an EIS as that work may have saved us these troubles. A year after Enbridge began flowing tar sands crude through their pipeline, we still await resolution of upwards of 4 dozen sites of deep groundwater upwellings, many of which, based on Enbridge’s lack of transparent communication regarding their environmental failures both during construction and since formal construction ended, we believe the state remains ignorant.
As a retired Metallurgical Engineer, my concerns include those regarding the pipeline integrity in Walker Brook Valley. If the pipeline is floating in a veneer of peat and/or being fatigued by the fluctuating water levels, the stresses could exceed designed metallurgical limits. I am concerned the Canadian Corporation, as evidenced in this video, has found this installation to be more problematic than expected. We know that Enbridge has struggled to complete their work at this crossing for over a year, yet there has been no release of information on this site to the public, save that done by Waadookawaad Amikwag in their announcements and webinars. Nor does it appear the DNR or MPCA are communicating with Clearwater County Commissioners or the County Land Commissioner on this concern. As this is Clearwater County Memorial Forest, public land with multiple deer stands as hunting remains open this weekend, we still have no notice of this danger to the public from the state or federal agencies. We are concerned that Enbridge alone knows of the risks here and that state and federal agencies may remain uninformed.
You received memos from Minnesota US Representative Betty McCollum, on 10/14/22, and Representative Ilhan Omar more recently, regarding the concerns of Waadookawaad Amikwag, a citizen scientist group seeking your assistance for federal investigation of this situation. As USEPA recently replied to Representative McCollum’s memo, we look forward to receiving your response soon as well. We are hopeful for a robust response to our specific concerns of deep underground upwelling water flows.
I write today with evidence of recent dirt piles adjacent to the Enbridge Line 3/93 corridor; another possible indication this project in the valley may involve pipeline integrity concerns.
In addition, we hold concerns for the excessive water removal from the valley as Walker Brook feeds The Red River of the North. Water being pumped up the hillside and over the Laurentian Divide now overwhelms the Enbridge dewatering station and flows across County 110 north of the project site, as indicated in the photo below. These ponds and brook that result are situated in the Mississippi River watershed and the excess water appears bound for Daniel Lake in the Clearwater State Wildlife Management Area. How will these millions of gallons of water being moved from one watershed to another impact both watersheds and the wildlife and people who rely on them?
Finally, we are concerned to know if this location has been reported to PHMSA and if their representatives might be of assistance to watch closely over this worksite of concern. And we urge your Engineers to ask Waadookawaad Amikwag for assistance as they are watching closely and have data and evidence on the nature of this concern that might be helpful in resolution.
We look forward to watching state and federal agencies build relationships of trust with the public monitors to ensure full enforcement of the Clean Water Act in Clearwater County and across Minnesota.
Thank you for your consideration. Miigwech Bizindaawiyeg.
Sincerely, Jami Gaither Alida, MN 218-657-2321
cc: Michael S. Regan, USEPA Alan K. Mayberry, PHMSA Timothy Gaither, PHMSA U.S. Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Minnesota 4th District U.S. Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, Minnesota 5th District Anna Hotz, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Randall Doneen, Minnesota DNR Waadookawaad Amikwag Sheriff Darin Halverson, Clearwater County Sheriff’s Office Andy Anderson, Clearwater County CCSO EMS Bruce Cox, Clearwater County Land Commissioner
Got word from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Secretary Seuffert Friday that it was posted to the Docket!!
Spent part of the weekend reviewing details on the massive 588,000+ gallon Keystone Pipeline “spill”… as the industry likes to call even these massive outpourings of oil from their pipeline failures.
Just a Spill. Really?!? Note how oil moves uphill from the failure site. You know spills that go uphill anywhere in your world?
Sure looks like a blast site to me. Was there so much pressure the crude exploded into the land?
So many questions. And sadly, no likely confirmed answers anytime soon – potentially for years – while investigators determine what happened and what will be required for remediation and to prevent recurrence. The lack of public transparency to what our fossil fuel companies get away with is appalling. If we knew, we’d surely do something about it?
Which is why they work so hard to assure the details stay under wraps… as best they can. This is why citizen monitoring groups like Waadookawaad Amikwag are so critical.
As a quality engineer who has read through reports on these kinds of investigations, including documents from the Kalamazoo failure and the Consent Decree that followed, I am doubtful for true accountability. I’m doubtful we will see much investigation by independent forensic engineers, let alone any real change to prevent recurrence. We see over and again how little PHMSA holds carriers accountable. So forgiving when the company fixes the failures in their control documentation and trainings… even after years of non-compliance. This is how stuff like this happens! Do they not understand that? No accountability means no reason for Enbridge to not do the same thing again. Yet, why should PHMSA even try? No one is watching. No one who has the will and ability to do anything about it anyway.
Besides, how can one truly be accountable for cleanup of a mess like this?
The type of oil in the Keystone pipeline is sludgy and often sinks to the bottom of waterways – making it more difficult to clean than conventional crude oil. …
Amy Burgin, a river ecosystem expert, said the public will need more specifics to understand the potential ramifications of the spill. …“Rivers are not meant to stay put — they move and they move whatever gets into them,” she said. “So oil is something that becomes very difficult to clean up from an aquatic system.” Burgin is a scientist at the Kansas Biological Survey and Center for Ecological Research and a professor at the University of Kansas Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.”
Same stuff Enbridge is shipping through Walker Brook valley tonight.
Most of what has been lost can never be remediated.
Update: Adding some more good references.
The ill-fated Keystone Pipeline has spilled yet again. On December 7, the pipeline leaked near Washington, Kansas, resulting in a spill of at least 14,000 barrels – over 500,000 gallons – of tarsands, benzene and other unknown chemicals into nearby land and waterways, the largest US oil spill in nearly a decade. It’s worth understanding, in part because it serves as a cautionary tale for carbon pipeline development.”
I found this comment interesting: “TC Oil was in the process of running an ILI tool. The ILI tool is currently downstream of the failure location. TC Oil had bypassed the Hope, Kansas, pump station, the next station downstream, in preparation for the roll to pass when the failure occurred.” Paul did too.
Interestingly, the CAO states that TC Energy was running an in-line inspection (ILI or smart PIG) at the time of the rupture, and that this tool was south of the rupture site. An ILI is sort of like an ultrasound, NMR or CAT scan for a pipeline. Assuming the tool was being run with the flow of the oil, this suggests that TC Energy may have very recent ILI data on the pipe segment that burst.Generally speaking, pipeline ruptures and other disasters are caused by a combination of factors. While official reports may identify a primary cause, such as a defective weld, the defect could be caused by a combination of underlying reasons, such as rushed work, inadequate training, defective materials, etc. The forensic analysis of pipeline failures is a well-established science, so hopefully, PHMSA will look more deeply than the direct technical cause.”
TC Energy was originally named TransCanada. The Keystone Pipeline was TransCanada’s first major crude oil pipeline development project. It was in a race with Enbridge to provide pipeline capacity to export tar sands oil from Canada to the US. TC Energy and Enbridge were competing for a share of a limited market. TC Energy started construction on the Keystone Pipeline in 2009 and it came online in the spring of 2010, just months before Enbridge brought its new Alberta Clipper Pipeline into service.”
RUSHED construction… like Line 3’s 9-month installation – a contributing factor?
Further there’s this (which mean really just go read his whole article!!):
In part due to higher-than-expected steel prices, competition for labor and materials, and perhaps management errors and inexperience in oil pipeline development, the Keystone Pipeline construction project suffered from a 145% cost overrun for its Canadian portion, and a 92% cost overrun for its US portion. Some of TransCanada’s customers, including Coffeyville Resources Refining & Marketing, LLC, the National Cooperative Refinery Association, and Sinclair Oil Corporation, were not best pleased and sued TransCanada in a Canadian court to void their long-term contracts, because the projected costs to use the Keystone Pipeline were much more than expected. It seems likely that during construction TransCanada knew about the cost overruns and may have been cutting corners to save money.”
On another interesting factor.
It’s distributing and fascinating. Hard to believe how these culprits are allowed to keep failing… Over and again… Just can’t see how it happens without some help from government or grift. I remember steel mill days. I know how things are in the real world. I used to ask new hires in training,”What do we make here?” Steel. That was the typical answer. I told them what we make is money, steel is just how we do it. This was the reality I learned in the male-dominated industry. Part of the reason I left was not being heard. If only I’d known that kind of ‘ignoring me’ was nothing on what the state of Minnesota can dish out.
I’d like PHMSA to come to Walker Brook and, if it applies, use this same language from their order in Kansas for Enbridge’s Line 3.
After evaluating the foregoing preliminary findings of fact, and having considered the characteristics of the pipeline, including the prior failures of the pipeline; the hazardous nature of the material (crude oil) transported; the uncertainty as to the root cause(s) of the Failure; the existing and potential additional impacts to property, the environment, and wildlife; and the possibility that the same condition(s) that may have caused the failure remain present in the pipeline and could lead to additional failures; I find that continued operation of the Affected Segment, as defined below, without corrective measures is or would be hazardous to life, property, or the environment, and that failure to issue this Order expeditiously would result in the likelihood of serious harm.”
I’ll give Paul the final words with the close to his very thorough blog.
The Rest of the Story
We won’t know the rest of the story for months. It will take time for the busted pipe to be removed, inspected and tested, and for PHMSA to release information about the cause. That being said, it’s likely that TC Energy already has a pretty good understanding of what went wrong, but due to liability concerns it won’t say anything in public.
The point of this blog is to highlight that many factors may contribute to failures, which is one of the reasons they are so difficult to prevent. The universe is constantly figuring out new ways to challenge humans, with the result that no pipeline is perfectly safe. Moreover, it is critical to consider not just the immediate causes of ruptures, but also all of the background factors that contribute to accidents, such as lack of experience, commercial pressures, competition for labor and material resources, new technology, increased project scale, product variations, etc.
While the chance of a pipeline failing at any particular location is quite low, the fact is that pipelines do fail and harm people and the environment. If a pipeline is built, it should be routed with an understanding that pipeline ruptures cannot be entirely prevented, such that routes should avoid families, vulnerable communities (such as nursing homes), businesses, and geohazards. Moreover, pipelines should be built to the highest possible safety standards without being rushed to completion by inexperienced developers.The Keystone Pipeline release saga provides a cautionary tale for the proposed tsunami of carbon pipelines. There is a risk that the tens of thousands of miles of proposed new carbon pipelines will be rushed to completion by inexperienced companies, in competition with each other for scarce labor and materials, regardless of working conditions, on routes chosen to minimize cost – all to rake in obscenely generous federal tax credits – thereby laying a foundation for a follow-on wave of carbon pipeline ruptures that harm or even kill the humans and animals living near them.
All that being said, the safest pipeline is one that is never built.”
Keystone source cause remains unknown:
The order said TC Energy was running an in-line inspection using a device inside the pipeline that was some 80 miles (129 kilometers) past where the pipeline ruptured. Such devices are designed to fit tightly inside and are known as “pigs” because early wooden ones squeaked as they went through.
Three university petroleum engineering instructors who reviewed the regulators’ order ahead of Associated Press interviews pointed out the testing, which federal guidelines call for doing at least once every five years.
“That timing is definitely suspicious,” said Jennifer Miskimins, head of the Colorado School of Mines’ petroleum energy department. “It is like blowing a pea through a pod.”
She along with instructors from the University of Tulsa and Pennsylvania State University said moving a pig through the pipe would have required additional pressure. …
Mike Stafford, the University of Tulsa instructor, said such a location is typical of where pipes tend to fail. That’s because oil contains a little water that tends to separate, and when oil is carried up hills that water flows back down, causing corrosion.
While Sanjay Srinivasan, the Penn State professor, was skeptical that corrosion was to blame because it is a slow process, he took note of the failure occurring in a section with a lot of bends.
“It’s not unusual for those kinds of locations to go through some severe stress that can cause these things,” he said. ”If there is any weak spot, that’s when it’ll show up.” …
The regulators’ order said TC Energy cannot restart operations for the 96-mile (155-kilometer) Keystone segment from Steele City, Nebraska, south to Hope, Kansas, without their permission. It also said the company must reduce the operating pressure by 20% inside that segment of the pipeline.
The company also must identify the cause of the spill and submit a plan for finding similar problems elsewhere and conducting additional tests by early March.
So far, TC Energy has recovered 2,598 barrels of oil mixed with water from the 14,000-barrel release… So, how much oil was recovered exactly? We’ll never know…
Update 12/15/22 A bit of history on Keystone and its process.
Now the U.S. has invested heavily in switching the United States to renewable energy with the Inflation Reduction Act, and a major oil spill resurrects concerns about the transportation of oil.
It is poetic timing. On Friday, as part of their yearlong investigation of the fossil fuel industry, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform released documents from executives at major oil companies revealing that they recognize that their products are creating a climate emergency but that they have no real plans for changing course.”
A while back, my friend Nookomis Deb Topping, Co-Founder and Co-Executive Director of R.I.S.E. Coalition, invited me to take a road trip to Mackinac to testify against the Proposed Line 5 Tunnel Project in the Straits of Mackinac. [Another Dumb Enbridge Idea…] Here’s what we told the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) on what Enbridge promises… vs. what they will deliver.
The people in Michigan were very interested to see the Enbridge post-construction landscape in hopes it might open the eyes of the USACE to help them say, “No,” to Enbridge’s next dumb idea. Anyone can see these are grave concerns – and this one, as yet unreported to the public – indicates when Enbridge asks, we must say, “NEVER AGAIN!!”
That Was Then… This is Now.
This past week, Waadookawaad Amikwag revealed twosites of upwelling water concerns, of dozens we’ve uncovered, along Enbridge’s Line 3/93 corridor. These ongoing concerns mean continued infiltration of our wetlands and bogs, doing unknown levels of harm.
We saw 198 members of the public engaged to hear our Presentation of Findings and 100 attended the Q&A discussion with the public later that evening. Eighty of them stayed for an extra twenty minutes of Q&A after the Action at the top of the hour! They were very interested in our work and so many questions remain unanswered.
We hope to get fact sheets and more updates out to the public soon. Keep up to date by subscribing to the Waadookawaad Amikwag YouTube channel. And Waadookawaad Amikwag has a website pending release.
Now, as winter closes in, we see more and more Enbridge presence at Walker Brook. Why do they need to have lights on at night? What are the risks? What is the state allowing them to do now? Without our knowledge. More importantly, without Tribal Consultation.
Walker Brook damages are even visible on Google Maps now from photos taken earlier this year. You can see here the entire valley full of destruction. Closer in, the degraded hillside is evident. Closer still, you can even see the sinkhole that’s opened in the ground above the Enbridge tar sands pipeline.
Of course, it’s worse today. Enbridge has 24/7 monitoring now. Only God and the MPCA know what they’re doing to the land and water now.
Enbridge has two major Line 5 pipeline project proposals in Wisconsin and Michigan.
Minnesota’s experience with Enbridge’s Line 3 project is a story that tells them BOTH to say… “No!”
You can learn more about these post-construction damages at a November 16th webinar that Sierra Club North Star Chapter is hosting as a partner with Waadookawaad Amikwag. Here is the Facebook event and the website RSVP pages for the noontime presentation and the evening discussion!
Read below for more details on Minnesota’s horrific aftermath with Enbridge pipeline construction.
It never was the leaking pipeline that was gonna get us… it was the damages their construction brings to the water.
Lies during Permitting
For the full story, we’d have to do far too much weedy Application and Environmental Impact Statement review:
We might review the data gathered and presented by Enbridge ahead of construction, apparently NOT thorough enough to understand the unstable and water-filled geological landscape where they proposed their pipeline construction. The more we investigate here, the more clearly it shows how little the state agencies investigated as they evaluated permit applications? As we citizens review topo maps now, we see even more clearly what walking the land told us from the beginning: THIS IS A HORRIBLE place this for a tar sands pipeline.
We might re-read the testimony of experts, like Paul Stolen, testifying for Friends of the Headwaters, who advised AGAINST permitting a tar sands pipeline through this inconsistent glacial till, advising frac-outs could be frequent regardless of Enbridge’s promises about their “safer” Horizontal Directional Drilling process.
We might also consider Paul’s further testimony about LaSalle Valley, seeking a re-route around this sensitive area:
Not enough evidence for those in DNR and PCA reviewing and deciding upon the permits it seems… or perhaps they missed Paul’s prescient comments? We watched as the PUC seemingly ignored 68K comments in opposition of this project while only a few thousand (mostly via signed pre-printed postcards from Enbridge) voiced support.
Unfortunately, testimony from experts like Paul Stolen and similar citizen comments were ignored as Minnesota’s regulatory bodies permitted the project anyway.
Then Enbridge ran rampant over the land, RUSHING through their construction, which may well be the source for these MANY long-term water impacts and ongoing environmental remediation sites – STILL INCOMPLETE – a year after Enbridge began flowing tar sands through their pipeline.
Enbridge acted criminally, ignoring their construction permits and not reporting the damages from this willful violation. A hard lesson learned by Minnesotans in Enbridge’s company town of Clearbrook.
Lies During Construction
The First Discovered Breach: COVERED UP BY ENBRIDGE FOR MONTHS!
Discovered is the proper word to use here as Enbridge knew of the unrelenting groundwater surging from the earth when they were working to install their new tar sands pipeline – Line 3, now 93 – at their terminal in Clearbrook.
On or about January 21st, they discovered that their steel pilings [at a depth of 28′, on a low-risk construction permit allowing only 8-10 feet of trenching] had ruptured an artesian aquifer. Enbridge, while reporting water flow in their weekly reports to DNR, made no attempt to be clear about the situation, which was only discovered inadvertently during a mid-June lunchtime conversation between DNR and an Independent Environmental Monitor, which was explained during a DNR Office Hours session last year.
Note: This was mere days after the DNR issued a 10-fold increase in Enbridge’s Water Appropriation Permit – to Five Billion Gallons …which seems to have gotten NO REVIEW after discovery of this water surging from the land at Enbridge’s construction site? And when you know the inside baseball of communications between the state and tribal officials, you see the truly egregious nature of the timing of this approval. Perhaps a chat for another day as it’s not my story to tell.
I continue to wonder how on earth the DNR could not see this OBVIOUS FAILURE by the Applicant to assess needs for construction. This request clearly deserved closer evaluation, especially for such a significant increase, DURING A DROUGHT YEAR, no less! How could Enbridge – pipeline construction experts one would assume – have such a POOR UNDERSTANDING of their needs for Water Appropriation? And, yes, Tribal consultation should have been a part of assessing this permitting change.
One might note that these “independent” monitors appear a perfunctory indicator of Enbridge’s adherence to unbiased practices – yet were they merely more window dressing to the Canadian corporation’s piss-poor plan for caring for our land? Almost half of these monitors were shown to be previous Enbridge contract employees!! [Thanks, Healing Minnesota Stories!]
That’s what Enbridge and the State call Independent?
So first we learned during permitting that Enbridge would not come clean on the real dangers their construction entails, and then we found Enbridge wouldn’t ADHERE to their permits ANYWAY! One might question, in fact, why there are no details provided on how Enbridge violated their Low Risk Construction permit at Clearbrook in the settlement documentation. Hmmm?
What do Permits MEAN if they can simply be ignored by an Applicant… without penalty?
Many Minnesotans continue to be baffled as state agencies and regulators keep listening to Enbridge, even as we continue to discover more and more about their deception.
It’s clear to us that Enbridge cannot be trusted. It seems more evident than ever that they are likely ill-equipped to actually remediate the damages they’ve caused.
The “FIXED” Breaches: Enbridge says, “OOPS! Not Quite Fixed After All!”
Back in August, Waadookawaad Amikwag – Those Who Help Beaver – visited LaSalle Valley where a SECOND Enbridge breach had been reported almost a year earlier. It was reported “fixed” in late 2021. [I say “late 2021” because the date has been reported by Enbridge as November by Jennifer Bjorhus back in August: “Pipeline operator Enbridge Energy said on its website that the LaSalle breach was grouted and fixed last November.“, while the recent settlement with the State, reported (Item 24 under LaSalle Creek Site): “On December 20, 2021, Enbridge reported that implementation of the 2021 LaSalle Corrective Action Plan had stopped groundwater discharge at the site.“ Who knows when Enbridge is constantly changing the story to fit their needed narrative?]
Far from being fixed, the team discovered many ongoing upwellings. Enbridge calls them seeps, yet this is the equipment they are using to measure just ONE of these “seeps”. This site was initially reported as leaking just under 10M gallons. Yet with one seep location showing almost a million gallons each month, based on our observations of their Weir box in the field, that is surely adding up!! Is anyone actually counting all the gallons lost due to Enbridge’s negligence?
Note that Enbridge also reported their Clearbrook breach remedied just days before it’s one-year anniversary… yet in the recent settlement, that claim was also proven to be premature: “On September 1, 2022, Enbridge informed DNR that a small groundwater seep had emerged near the Clearbrook Site repair at an estimated rate of ½ gallons per minute.” Sooo…. Not Fixed. While initial reports spoke of 50M gallons, that later nearly doubled, and, if flow continues… who knows? Enbridge isn’t counting the gallons at this site it seems.
The settlement notes of the third reported Enbridge breach, this one at MP1102.5, just 400′ outside Fond du Lac Reservation, that it TOO is “fixed”! For now maybe? Waadookawaad Amikwag continues to ground-truth these Enbridge claims. 219 millions gallons of water were reported lost.
Continued Coverup by Enbridge… and the State
Waadookawaad Amikwag has document dozens of upwelling water sites along Enbridge’s corridor. We have tried talking with Minnesota Agency contacts to no avail. [Most won’t even respond to my emails anymore.] We offered to share data, if they were interested but they never asked (as was reported by Bjorhus above). Seems they are only interested in the Enbridge narrative.
The State STILL HAVEN’T ASKED for any of our data.
In fact, we’re still awaiting a response on a draft Memorandum of Agreement for this data use… sent over a month ago. Meanwhile, we see continued infiltration of Enbridge in our bogs and wetlands.
The settlement Enbridge has negotiated with state regulators is far too premature based on grounded evidence along the Line 3/93 corridor. There are dozens of sites of concern that need review. We’ve documented plainly and clearly, with water testing, photographs, thermal imaging and drone footage, at least two sites of breached groundwater upwelling that remain UNREPORTED to the public by State Agencies.
In response to Healing Minnesota Stories’ questions, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) said: “While the investigation is ongoing, we cannot provide details about the situation.”
The DNR continued: “However, we want to correct your suggestion that there is an aquifer breach at this site. Based on our work thus far, the Minnesota DNR has found no evidence of an aquifer breach. Instead, the Walker Brook location appears to have an upwelling of shallow groundwater resources that has complicated site restoration.”
The MPCA continued: “The MPCA is in regular communication with on-site independent environmental monitors to ensure the company adheres to permits that remain in place while the company works to restore the site.”
Just because the matter is under investigation shouldn’t preclude agencies from releasing basic information.”
Is MN DNR using Enbridge tactics to downplay the situation… “No evidence of an Aquifer breach!!” Does that mean they think this situation is not a problem?
You decide. Does this photo of the Valley at Walker Brook look like a problem to You?
We might also consider, as part of our review of this project and its outcomes, re-listening to the voices of our children, who protested… asking us adults for NO MORE FOSSIL FUEL INFRASTRUCTURE development, asking us to recognize how much we have already polluted their world and to heed their call to awaken to the increasingly scary dangers of climate change… Their everyday nightmare.
THE AG’s REPORTED SETTLEMENT WITH ENBRIDGE APPEARS perhaps PREMATURE?
Video shows the 10/5/22 examination of the landscape within Walker Brook Valley at Enbridge’s second crossing of the small stream, including evidence showing deep water upwelling from the ground. This is along the RA-05 portion of the corridor route in Clearwater County. It is now evident that deep underground water (at a constant 45°F) is being released to the surface and bled from the hillside down and into the forest to the south of the clear-cut corridor. A test well has been installed and extensive timber matting has been placed through the wetlands and into the valley. The large hole in the land, downhill (and thus downstream) from the well installation, now shows gray contamination buildup on the branches reaching in from the sides of the sinkhole. In addition, there is an oily sheen on the surface of the sinkhole now. While testing has not been completed to confirm this is a petroleum-based sheen, its surface behavior is indicative of this possibility. The water temperature coming into the sinkhole is colder than when it leaves, likely due to surface solar and air exposure of the cold, deep, underground water bleeding in from uphill and from below. The water within the hole is not cold like deeper groundwater so may be a superficial water body. Yet, the bottom undulates and a ski pole goes deep into the hole past the apparent bottom. Black piping diverts water, from both the timber matting area and the large sinkhole, to the southwest, ending at the forest’s edge and flowing on into Walker Brook below. This water all tests at about 45-50 degrees, indicating a deep water breach.
Video was made between 1500 and 1800 hours on 10/5/22.
Narrative – Jami Gaither for Waadookawaad Amikwag: Enbridge’s deep water upwelling at their Line 3 crossing of Walker Brook includes a massive timber matting addition. Today’s review discusses a near-platform identification of biological sheen, moves to the sinkhole, and then reviews downhill piping outlets where Enbridge is diverting water from its corridor breach to the nearby forest edge.
Before we go too far, as there is so much to catch in this video, here’s a bit more to help understanding.
Enbridge has an UNREPORTED-to-the-public breach of deep groundwater, on Minnesota public land.
This post-construction damage now requires a return to the wetlands of heavy equipment.
The new work-site appears to be polluting the water with oily sheen producing chemicals.
An unknown quantity of deep groundwater is bleeding from the land with Enbridge showing no apparent capability to stop the flow, even as we are now a full year post-construction.
The results and impacts of the Enbridge construction for their new Line 3 pipeline have created unsafe conditions and possibly resulted in a situation that cannot be repaired.
The impacts of these environmental failures on the underground infrastructure are unknown and could be creating forces on the pipeline that bring even more dangerous concerns.
Run-off from underground fills the valley consuming the brook into a pond at the valley floor at this location, not yet disclosed to the public by Minnesota agencies. Investigation of pooling near the platform brought concern of an oily sheen. A touch into the surface revealed a hole that remains open, indicating a biological sheen, not one with petroleum contamination. Water temps measured in the 40’s were indicative of a deep water upwelling.
Tubing sections from under the platform lead to this 4’ x 6’ sinkhole that continuously burps up air and water. Following installation of a test well, we see evidence of residue coating surfaces of roots and the sides of the hole. The 10/5/22 photo compares poorly with the clarity of this area captured on 8/25/22. The surface now has a sheen as well, which, upon disturbance, shows the film closing back in on itself, indicating a petroleum-based contamination. It seems Enbridge’s attempts at remediation are creating more pollution impacts than resolution of their deep water upwelling. As this land is public-access, it creates public safety concerns. We can also see in this area how the temperature changes from the inlet – which appears to be capturing uphill run-off – to the sinkhole itself; a gain of 7-8°F in a short distance.
As we move to the outlet piping running into the edge of the forest at the edge of Enbridge’s Line 3 project clearcut, we find more cold water in the 40’s rushing quickly into the land. It is clear that there is a large amount of water being bled from underground in this location, having an unknown impact on the stability of the land around this pipeline installation, as evidenced most strongly by the sinkhole in the corridor very near the pipeline itself.
On September 28th, we issued a call for help to the Minnesota Congressional Representatives and Senators, asking they request the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) initiate a federal investigation of these concerns. Waadookawaad Amikwag finds evidence that the Clean Water Act, turning 50 years old this month, is being wantonly violated here in Minnesota as officials and agencies downplay and hide the impacts we’re witnessing.
September 28th to October 2nd, R.I.S.E. Coalition held a 2nd Annual Firelight Treaty Encampment to help educate the community on Treaty Rights and Responsibilities, support the field workers monitoring the nearby post-construction Enbridge Line 3/93 damages, and holding space in ceremony for nibi miinawaa manoomin (water and wild rice).
October 6th, Waadookawaad Amikwag issued a draft Memorandum of Agreement on behalf of our flyover data partners (R.I.S.E. Coalition, Sierra Club, Honor the Earth, MN350, and White Earth Reservation) to AG Ellison along with DNR Commissioner Strommen, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency Commissioner Kessler, and Public Utilities Chair Sieben. We asked for a response by October 21st on what agreements we might make around working together, using all the data that Water Protectors have gathered, to determine 1) how we can stop additional harms by Enbridge to the land and water and 2) find the least damaging methods, if they exist, to remediate the harms Enbridge has caused.
While we see new horrors each week in the post-Enbridge-construction landscape, the state continues to withhold this information from the public. It seems, only when we reveal the damages publicly ourselves, that the state will confirm to Minnesotans our findings about Enbridge’s post-construction water impacts.
As was witnessed in early August for the LaSalle breach, our evidence forced the hand of the DNR to come clean and admit publicly that, on July 11th, Enbridge had reported ongoing “seeps” in the LaSalle Valley. The November 2021 thermal flyover revealed the unrelenting flow from the land just after Enbridge reported the LaSalle breach “fixed”. One measurement on one of the seeps at LaSalle shows flow of over 800,000 gallons per month. We’ve counted at least 6 “seeps”; Enbridge has marked at least 4.
We’ve issued press releases, yet the mainstream press rarely publishes on our work. We continue to be “our own news” as we like to say… the News for the People.
It seems, only when we reveal the damages publicly ourselves, that the state will confirm to Minnesotans our findings about Enbridge’s post-construction water impacts.
What will become of Minnesota, Land of 10,000 Lakes, if these deep water bodies are bled dry?
Please do what you can? Share our work, make calls to agencies and officials, watch the videos to comprehend the impacts on our ecosystems and our people.