Lentis/Line 3 Pipeline Controversy

From Wikibooks, open books for an open world
Jump to navigation Jump to search
File:Enbridge Line 3 Current vs Approved Pipeline Route.png
The current Line 3 pipeline route and the replacement pipeline

The Line 3 Pipeline is a 1031-mile crude oil pipeline, running from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin.[1] Built in the 1960s, the original pipeline was corroded and required ongoing maintenance. In 2014, Enbridge announced plans to rebuild the Line 3 pipeline to address safety and maintenance concerns and to increase the oil capacity. The construction of the replacement pipeline was met with opposition from environmental groups and Native American communities in the United States. As of October 2021, the replacement pipeline is complete and fully operational.[2]

History[edit | edit source]

The Line 3 pipeline was originally built in the 1960s and began operation in 1968. Since completion, the capacity of the pipeline has varied between 760,000 barrels per day and the current capacity of 390,000 barrels per day.[1] The pipeline was initially built and owned by Lakehead Pipeline Company, which later became Enbridge.[3]

Oil Spills[edit | edit source]

From the early 1970s to 1991, the Line 3 pipeline had 16 oil spills, resulting in around 4 million gallons of oil spilled.[4] The largest of these was on March 3, 1991, when 1.7 million gallons of crude oil spilled onto the frozen Prairie River near Grand Rapids, Minnesota due to a rupture in the Line 3 pipeline.[5] If the river had not been frozen over, the oil would have contaminated the Mississippi River just two miles downstream.[6] To this day, it is still the largest inland oil spill in the United States. Cleanup efforts were led by government agencies including the U.S. Coast Guard, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Minnesota Department of Emergency Management, and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.[7]

Pipeline Replacement[edit | edit source]

Due to safety concerns regarding the degradation of the Line 3 pipeline, it has been transporting around 390,000 barrels of oil per day since 2010, significantly less that the 760,000 barrels per day capacity.[8] In 2014, Enbridge submitted plans to invest $7.5 billion to install a new 1,031-mile, 36-inch diameter pipeline and deactivate the existing 1097-mile pipeline from Edmonton, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin.[1] After years of delays due to public opposition, Enbridge completed the pipeline replacement and the new pipeline began service on October 1, 2021.[2] The new pipeline averages 760,000 barrels of oil per day with a capacity of 844,000 barrels per day.[8]

Participants[edit | edit source]

Federal Agencies[edit | edit source]

Army Corps of Engineers[edit | edit source]

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued a permit to Enbridge, Inc., for impacts to waters due to the construction from Line 3. The Corps claimed the approval was science based. The Corps analysis included very little independent evaluation of the risk of oil spills at the approved crossings. The Corps asked the judge to toss the lawsuit from native tribes and environmental groups.[9]

Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended replacing Line 3. In 2016, Enbridge agreed to a settlement with the EPA over Michigan and Illinois oil spills caused by Enbridge pipelines. In this agreement the government required Enbridge to replace the Line 3 pipeline.[10]

Pipeline Supporters[edit | edit source]

Enbridge[edit | edit source]

The Line 3 pipeline is owned by Enbridge, a multinational pipeline company founded in 1949 that owns pipelines throughout the U.S and Canada. It is North America's largest natural gas utility by volume and third largest by active customers. The CEO and president of Enbridge is Al Monaco.

American Petroleum Institute[edit | edit source]

Enbridge CEO, Al Monaco is also a Director and member of the American Petroleum Institute (API) Executive and Finance Committees. API is the largest U.S. trade association for oil and gas and contributes about 75% of funds to the Republican Party every two year election term with 25% going to the Democratic Party. Mike Sommers, the API president and CEO, argued that "restricting pipeline development and shutting down safe pipelines that deliver affordable energy to the world is the exact opposite thing that we should be pursuing right now" in regard to the Line 3 protests.[11]

Minnesotans for Line 3

Minnesotans for Line 3 is a grassroot organization started to support the Line 3 pipeline. They're an organization of thousands of members and have had 70 public meetings over the past six years. They believe the pipeline was a significant boost to economy during its design and construction due to the purchase of local materials for construction and use of local hotels and restaurants. They argue that Line 3 creates thousands of construction jobs and new business opportunities for project planning.[12]

Pipeline Opponents[edit | edit source]

Ojibwe Tribe[edit | edit source]

Many Native American communities have established reservations in Northern Minnesota and nearby regions of Canada through treaties with the U.S. and Canadian governments. One community, the Ojibwe tribe, has opposed Line 3 because the proposed route of the new pipeline crosses over protected land. They have voiced concerns that the construction of the pipeline would jeopardize wildlife and resources that have been promised to them through land treaties.

Several Ojibwe bands have taken legal action against Enbridge in Minnesota courts. In 2017, the White Earth and Red Lake bands, along with the support of environmental groups, filed a lawsuit that attempted to block Minnesota’s approval of the new Line 3 pipeline. The Mille Lacs, Red Lake, and White Earth bands were also a part of a joint effort in which the Minnesota Court of Appeals reversed the Public Utilities Commission's approval of the proposed Line 3 project. Most recently, tribal council chairman Kevin Dupuis Sr. characterized the Line 3 revitalization project as “evil,” and that the Ojibwe is “confounded that [they] are being forced to choose between two evils as both routes pass through [their] lands - the Fond du Lac Reservation and the 1854 Ceded Territories.” [13]

Environmental Groups[edit | edit source]

Several environmental groups have resisted Enbridge’s planning and construction of Line 3. One group, the Sierra Club, maintains a campaign entitled “Beyond Oil” whose mission is to advocate for a future without the need for infrastructure to transport fossil fuels.[14] The Sierra Club was instrumental in organizing a movement to block construction of Line 3. On June 7, 2021, over two thousand people gathered at the construction site in Minnesota calling for federal representatives to revoke Enbridge’s building permits.[15]

Another environmental group, Honor the Earth, aims to raise awareness and support for environmental issues that are significant to Native American communities. In response to Enbridge's plan to rebuild Line 3, Honor the Earth’s Executive Director Winona LaDuke issued a statement portraying the construction project as a “crime” and urging state and federal officials to issue an environmental impact statement of the pipeline.[16] Both the Sierra Group and Honor the Earth joined the Ojibwe community in 2017 to file an appeal to block the pipeline’s approval in Minnesota.

Environmental Impact[edit | edit source]

The pipeline exposes a new part of the state to a potential oil spill which would threaten lakes and rivers. It crosses 227 bodies of water including the Mississippi river twice and is a watershed for 18 million people. The new pipeline has the capacity to carry more oil. The additional oil transported is equivalent to total CO2 daily emissions of 20 million cars every year.[17] The oil also contains harmful carcinogens like benzene. The oil is Alberta’s tar sands which emits three times as much global warming pollution compared to conventional crude oil.  Alberta tar's sand mining for Line 3 will demolish a region in Alberta the size of Florida.[18] Enbridge building a new pipeline leads to the current pipeline being abandoned in the present state. This puts the environment at risk from corrosion and leftover oil. The construction of the pipeline has settler colonialism based environmental justice issues. It threatens 20 wild rice lakes within just a mile of Line 3 where native people harvest this sacred food.[19]

Outcomes[edit | edit source]

While the Line 3 revitalization project in Minnesota has mostly concluded, dispute caused by the pipeline continues to be an ongoing issue.[20] The new pipeline started operating on October 1, 2021 and is expected to increase Enbridge’s export capacity of oil from Western Canada to the U.S. by about 370,000 barrels of oil per day.[2] Protesters continue to express opposition to the pipeline to Enbridge and local politicians while environmental organizations, interest groups, and Native American communities challenge the pipeline’s permits in federal and tribal courts. The state’s environmental impact assessment of the project concluded that the pipeline’s carbon output could be up to 193 million tons of carbon per year.[21]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. a b c Enbridge. (n.d.). Line 3 Replacement Project Summary (PDF), Enbridge. https://www.enbridge.com/~/media/Enb/Documents/Projects/Line%203/ProjectHandouts/ENB_Line3_Public_Affairs_ProjectSummary.pdf.
  2. a b c Enbridge. (2021, Sept. 29). Line 3 Replacement Project Substantially Completed and Set to be Fully Operational, Enbridge (press release). https://www.enbridge.com/media-center/news/details?id=123692&lang=en.
  3. GOGEL. (2022, Nov. 8). Line 3 Pipeline, Global Oil & Has Exit List. https://gogel.org/line-3-pipeline#s-14469.
  4. AP News. (1991, March 13). Company Revises Minnesota Oil Spill Upward to 1.7 Million Gallons, AP News. https://apnews.com/article/2d06afe9e6c0712a86b91309d7c4932b.
  5. Kraker, Dan and Marohn, Kirsti. (2021, March 3). 30 years later, echoes of largest inland oil spill remain in Line 3 fight, MPR News. https://www.mprnews.org/story/2021/03/03/30-years-ago-grand-rapids-oil-spill.
  6. Kraker, Dan and Marohn, Kirsti. (2021, March 4). 30 years later, echoes of largest inland oil spill remain in Line 3 fight, Duluth News Tribune. https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/business/30-years-later-echoes-of-largest-inland-oil-spill-remain-in-line-3-fight.
  7. Incident News. (1991, March 3). Lakehead Pipeline Company; Grand Rapids, Minnesota, Incident News. https://incidentnews.noaa.gov/incident/6793.
  8. a b Hughlett, Mike. (2017, Sept. 11). Enbridge's new pipeline across northern Minnesota not needed, state says, Star Tribune. https://www.startribune.com/enbridge-s-proposed-new-pipeline-across-northern-minnesota-not-needed-state-department-of-commerce-says/443795653/.
  9. Malo, Sebastien. (2021, June 24). Army Corps asks judge to toss enviros, Native tribes suit over Line 3, Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/legal/litigation/army-corps-asks-judge-toss-enviros-native-tribes-suit-over-line-3-2021-06-24/.
  10. Minnesotans for Line 3. (n.d.). Who made the decision to replace Line 3, and when did it happen?, Minnesotans for Line 3. https://www.minnesotansforline3.com/line3decision/.
  11. Kaplan, Talia. (2021, June 23). Line 3 pipeline attack by left slammed by oil, gas exec: Why would anyone shut it down?, Fox Business. https://www.foxbusiness.com/energy/oil-gas-exec-on-left-attacking-line-3-pipeline-why-would-anyone-shut-it-down.
  12. Minnesotans for Line 3. (n.d.). The Truth about Line 3, Minnesotans for Line 3. https://www.minnesotansforline3.com/realities/.
  13. News Tribune. (2018, August 3). 3Fond du Lac Band says all options open regarding Line 3, Duluth News Tribune. https://www.duluthnewstribune.com/news/fond-du-lac-band-says-all-options-open-regarding-line-3.
  14. Sierra Club. (n.d.). Beyond Oil, Sierra Club. https://www.sierraclub.org/minnesota/beyond-oil.
  15. Sierra Club. (2021, June 23). Line 3 News from the Frontlines and the Court, Sierra Club. https://www.sierraclub.org/minnesota/blog/2021/06/line-3-news-frontlines-and-court.
  16. Littleredfeather, Sarah. (July 11). Counter Punch: The Story of Line 3, Honor the Earth. https://honorearth.org/news/counter-punch-ln3.
  17. Environmental News Service. (2021, June 7). Thousands Block Oil Pipeline at Mississippi River Headwaters, Environmental News Service. https://ens-newswire.com/thousands-block-oil-pipeline-at-mississippi-river-headwaters/.
  18. Kusnetz, Nicholas. (2021, Nov. 21). Canada’s Tar Sands: Destruction So Vast and Deep It Challenges the Existence of Land and People, Inside Climate News. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/21112021/tar-sands-canada-oil/.
  19. Mizner, Lynn Sue. (2021, May 18). Enbridge’s Line 3 is Putting Wild Rice at Risk—and Indeigenous Water Protectors are Taking a Stand. Stop Line 3. https://www.stopline3.org/news/2021/5/19/enbridges-line-3-is-putting-wild-rice-at-riskand-indigenous-water-protectors-are-taking-a-stand.
  20. Askari, Yasmine. (2021, Nov. 29). The Line 3 replacement has been completed and operating for months. So why are activists still camped out by the construction sites?, Minn Post. https://www.minnpost.com/environment/2021/11/the-line-3-replacement-has-been-completed-and-operating-for-months-so-why-are-activists-still-camped-out-by-the-construction-sites/.
  21. Oci Team. (2020, Jan. 29). A Giant Step Backward: Carbon Impact of the Line 3 Pipeline, Po; Change International. https://priceofoil.org/2020/01/29/line-3-climate-impact/.