The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s unfortunate cancellation of two public hearings in St. Cloud on Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 expansion denied the public a vital opportunity to provide input on a deeply important agency decision.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce’s recent finding that Line 3 is “not needed” only confirms what we already know: Tar sands pipelines are inherently dangerous and increasingly unnecessary. Enbridge spilled over a million gallons of tar sands crude into the Kalamazoo River in 2010. That cleanup has now cost over $1 billion – but a million gallons is a fraction of what Enbridge would be transporting every day through the expanded Line 3.
Make no mistake, this proposal is a pipeline expansion. It would ultimately increase Line 3’s capacity by 180,000 barrels per day — about 7.5 gallons per day, or over seven times the amount Enbridge recklessly spilled into the Kalamazoo River. An expanded Line 3 could lead to a catastrophic spill of heavy crude onto tribal lands, onto small farms, onto public lands — while refineries in other states reap the albeit limited economic benefits.
Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 expansion is controversial for good reason; planning for the St. Cloud hearings should have anticipated heavy attendance and the possibility of protests. But the bottom line is that Line 3 is not needed and any line replacing it will present a constant threat to the environment and to public health. Consequently, the old pipeline should be shut down and dismantled, and the PUC should not approve the proposed replacement. In the meantime, the PUC should reschedule the St. Cloud public hearings with proper notice, giving Minnesotans a meaningful opportunity to participate.
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