May 7, 2018
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Why Minnesota should prefer the preferred route for a rebuilt Line 3.
Throughout the regulatory process to review and approve plans to rebuild Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline, there have been a lot of questions raised. As people who understand pipelines, there have been two questions that really matter to us and should also be important to people across Minnesota.
The first was answered when Administrative Law Judge said Replacing Line 3 is “reasonable and prudent” because the existing line is “old, needs significant repair, and poses significant integrity concerns for the State.” Question answered. Minnesota needs Line 3 and a safe and reliable way to make sure we can get oil to where it needs to go.
The other question that needs to be answered is deciding where a rebuilt Line 3 should go?
The Public Utilities Commission will decide this later this year. The latest ALJ opinion offered a new route idea while Enbridge has proposed a far better route. We think that the more people look at all of this information, the route Enbridge and others prefer is clearly the only and best way for Minnesota to rebuild Line 3.
When you review information developed from the work done to study Line 3 and where it should go, it becomes even more obvious why the preferred route makes the most sense and is clearly better for Minnesota.
One of the most obvious reasons is to make sure this project respects tribal communities and avoids tribal land. Rebuilding along the existing route ignores this and will instead create unresolvable and un-necessary conflicts with sovereign tribal nations. Governor Dayton says he doesn’t see any viable way (and neither do we) that areas of the latest ALJ’s recommended route could be attempted or should be attempted because it goes through the two tribal lands.
The new route idea would also needlessly impact far more of Minnesota. This includes more communities and 75% more acres of populated land (20,807 acres) than the preferred route (4,814 acres). We don’t think it makes sense to use a route that would expose 80% more acres of drinking water resources (2,942 acres) than the preferred route (501 acres) and impact approximately 11 acres of Minnesota Lakes of Biological Significance – while the preferred route would not impact any.
The preferred route is shovel ready because the Final Environmental Impact Statement is done and was deemed adequate by the PUC. Enbridge has already secured easements from landowners for 95% of the right-of-way for the preferred route that are needed before construction can happen. The new route idea has not been studied and has significant issues that would take months – if not years- to be reviewed before any construction could start.
The idea of rebuilding Line 3 in a trench so close to other operating pipelines would also create unnecessary safety, environmental and economic risks that are bad for Minnesota. It would take about 3 times longer to complete and force Line 3 to completely shut down for almost two years until the new line in in place.
Needlessly shutting down a pipeline the ALJ says Minnesota needs would put un-needed stress on our economy that will raise the cost of gas and increase congestion on railroads when more oil is moved by rail cars “through” the heart of many communities. These facts are undisputable.
We can all now acknowledge that Minnesota needs to rebuild Line 3. It should also be extremely clear to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that using the preferred route instead of this new route idea is the better, faster, safer and more respectful way to replace an aging pipeline that will protect Minnesota communities, our water, and our economy.