In a victory for state campaigners, Minnesota’s Department of Commerce is telling the state’s Public Utilities Commission that Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline should be shut down, and a replacement for the 1960s-era line is not needed.
“This document will arouse considerable controversy,” Governor Mark Dayton said in a media statement. “That discord should be recognized as part of the wisdom of the process.”
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In its analysis, the state agency “found that Enbridge has enough capacity in its six-pipeline corridor in Minnesota to meet long-term demand without a new Line 3,” the Star Tribune reports. “The department also criticized Enbridge’s forecast for the Line 3 project, saying it didn’t provide a sufficient analysis of future demand for gasoline.”
Along with its own testimony to the state PUC, the Commerce Department released an independent analysis by global energy economists London Economics International. It concluded that refineries in Minnesota and the Upper Midwest “have been operating at high levels of utilization, which indicates both they are not short of physical supplies of crude oil, and that they have little room to increase total crude runs.”
The Department charged in its release that “Enbridge has not established a need for the proposed project; the pipeline would primarily benefit areas outside Minnesota; and serious environmental and socio-economic risks and effects outweigh limited benefits.”
Enbridge responded tersely that “the Department of Commerce opinion is only one view, [to] which we and other energy consumers will respond in detail through this process.”
The report “represents a major and unexpected roadblock for Calgary-based Enbridge,” the Star Tribune notes. “The pipeline project already is controversial: Enbridge sees it as a needed safety upgrade to the corrosion-prone line, while opponents—environmentalists and American Indians—say it could further threaten the region’s water sources.”
In a release, Sierra Club State Director Margaret Levin said the Commerce Department is agreeing with Minnesotans by refusing to back the project. “If built, this pipeline would threaten Minnesota’s lands, water, wildlife, and Indigenous treaty-protected rights,” she stated. “At a time when there is no market demand for more tar sands, and Minnesota’s oil consumption rates are declining, there’s simply no good reason to allow Enbridge to build a dangerous new tar sands pipeline across our state.”
“The Department of Commerce statement today is a welcome confirmation of what youth, climate experts, Indigenous people, and thousands of Minnesotans from all walks of life have been saying since the project was proposed: We don’t need a giant new tar sands pipeline running through Minnesota’s land and water,” agreed MN350 Midwest Tar Sands Organizer Andy Pearson. “It’s time for Governor Dayton to a make a clear statement that, in light of the devastation climate chaos is causing, Minnesota needs to lead on the fastest possible transition to a clean energy economy and leave the dirty tar sands oil in the ground.”