Enbridge Inc. is working around state regulations and taking advantage of legal loopholes to patch together a pipeline network through the U.S. Great Lakes region capable of carrying 1.1 million barrels per day of tar sands/oil sands crude, considerably more than the rejected Keystone XL pipeline, according to an analysis released this week by the U.S. Sierra Club, 350.org, Bold Nebraska, and the U.S. National Wildlife Federation.
“The report says that the Canadian company has consistently worked behind closed doors with regulators to avoid the type of public environmental review that killed Keystone XL,” the National Observer reports. “Among the revelations in the report is how Enbridge doubled the amount of tar sands crude coming across the border on its Alberta Clipper line. The report alleges that the company gained ‘backdoor approval’ from the State Department to manipulate its border crossing in order to increase the amount of crude it moves through the U.S.”
Citing the report, Enbridge Over Troubled Water, the Observer describes the sequential pipeline expansions as “the new Keystone XL”.
At the core of the project was the expansion of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline, a piece of infrastructure that dates back to the 1960s and never underwent review under the U.S. National Environmental Policy Act. “Enbridge positioned the construction of the new line as routine maintenance,” enabling the company to “skirt the ongoing federal review process and expand the Alberta Clipper pipeline immediately without any public or agency involvement,” Mandel writes. “The State Department issued a letter saying changes to the operation of the pipeline outside of the border did not require authorization from the department.”
A coalition of environmental groups and First Nations challenged the expansion in federal court, but a judge ruled the decision was outside the court’s authority.
“The report also highlights how the company is planning to build a new line in a new corridor through Minnesota’s ‘pristine’ lake country and then abandon Line 3, which is described as a ‘corroding pipeline,’” the Observer notes. “The new line would add another 370,000 barrel per day capacity of tar sands crude across the border.”