The Canadian company proposing a large oil pipeline across northern Minnesota has not proven to the state’s government that there is a need for more oil transportation, the Department of Commerce stated this week.
Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement project would reroute an old existing pipeline so it could carry double the amount of oil — up to 35 million gallons per day if approved.
The proposed route would include crossings of the Kettle River and other tributary streams of the St. Croix River.
But, according to expert testimony submitted to the Public Utilities Commission, Enbridge has failed to meet legal requirements to show why the pipeline would be in the public’s interest.
Relying on outside individuals with expertise in economics and oil markets, the agency found that Minnesota’s refineries are not suffering from a lack of supply, and demand is not expected to increase in the foreseeable future.
The new pipeline would cross numerous “high quality” water resources, especially in the stretch including the St. Croix watershed, raising the stakes of a possible rupture and spill.
“It remains to be seen whether the long-term impacts on land and water resources that would be impacted by a spill would be sufficiently remediated,” Kate O’Connell, Manager of Energy Regulation and Planning for the Minnesota Department of Commerce, testified. “The number of water crossings from the Applicant’s preferred route and other route alternatives would exacerbate such concerns. Such concerns appear to be higher on the Clearbrook-to-Superior segment than on the Neche-to-Clearbrook segment.”
Meanwhile, the existing pipeline Enbridge proposes to replace also poses numerous risks to Minnesota’s environment, with “limited benefits” to Minnesota refineries.
“Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built,” O’Connell said.
Enbridge disagreed with the Department of Commerce, promising to respond.
“The Department of Commerce (DOC) opinion is only one view, which we and other energy consumers will respond to in detail,” Enbridge said, according to Reuters. “We disagree … as do other shippers and consumers of oil in Minnesota and the U.S. Midwest, as outlined in other testimony filed today substantiating the need for the project.”
Enbridge says the pipeline is an essential component of its Mainline System, which carries oil from sources in North Dakota and Canada to refineries in the Chicago area. The system also includes Line 61, a large pipeline transporting crude oil through the St. Croix headwaters in Wisconsin.
The Public Utilities Commission expects to make a decision on the project by next spring.
The Public Utilities Commission is currently accepting comments, and has several hearings scheduled in the next two months.
Deadline: Wednesday, November 22, 2017, at 4:30 p.m.
Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
121 7th Place East, Suite 350
St. Paul, MN 55101
Please include the Commission’s Docket Numbers 14-916 (Certificate of Need) or 15-137 (Route) and OAH Docket Numbers 65-2500-32764 (Certificate of Need) or 65-2500-33377 (Route) in the subject line of all communications.