It’s nice to see we share common ground on some issues. Pipeline opponent Winona LaDuke wrote recently in the News Tribune that her group “just wants clean water.“ That’s extremely important to Enbridge as well — and it is a key consideration in all that we do.
The replacement of our Line 3 pipeline in northern Minnesota is one example of that commitment. We’re investing $2.6 billion to replace an aging pipeline that has served the energy needs of Minnesota and the region since the 1960s.
A recent study of the Mississippi River by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency found the upper part of the river to be very healthy in the area where our Enbridge pipelines have operated for nearly 70 years. Replacing Line 3 will help to ensure that continues to be the case for decades to come.
And we’re not leaving anything to chance. As part of our commitment to the project, we have designed the system with heavier-wall pipe and isolation valves at designated water crossings, have included state-of-the-art leak detection, have committed to adding two maintenance crews along the pipeline route, and have added a patrol helicopter in Bemidji, Minn., to conduct pipeline route patrols.
We also have committed to ensure the replacement line is powered by renewable energy, an added benefit to replacing the existing pipeline.
Looking at other parts of our North American Liquids Pipelines operations, we are replacing the pipe under the St. Clair River in southern Michigan, replacing the pipe under a tributary to the Paint River in northern Michigan, investing $500 million on a new crossing at the Straits of Mackinac, and replacing the pipe under the Mississippi River in Missouri. These investments are all geared at making safe pipeline systems even safer and protecting vital waterways.
From a longer-term perspective, Enbridge shares the belief that we need to materially reduce global greenhouse-gas emissions to address climate change. A sustainability study by the International Energy Agency suggests that in 2040, 48% of global energy demand will continue to be met by oil and gas, while meeting reduced greenhouse-gas emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. If the experts at the International Energy Agency are even remotely correct, then we need to work together to ensure we have the right infrastructure to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions across the entire energy system.
Enbridge is willing and able to make a huge private investment in the protection of Minnesota’s environment and has the proven financial strength to do so. We also have the financial strength to operate and maintain our systems for decades to come, including any operational issues that may arise — just as we have done for the past 70 years.
The replacement of Line 3 is projected to cost $2.6 billion and will create 8,600 jobs in Minnesota during construction. In terms of economic impact, that is about $334 million in payroll to workers, plus a $162 million construction-related gain for local economies through the purchase of local products and materials and the use of local hotels, restaurants, and services.
Also, Enbridge has committed to spending $100 million with indigenous and tribally owned businesses on the Line 3 project.
Looking long-term, each county crossed by the project will receive additional property tax revenue. Enbridge already pays more than $30 million in Minnesota property taxes annually; this should increase incrementally by $35 million beginning the first full year of service.
We all need clean water. We operate in some of the most environmentally sensitive areas in North America and have done so safely and responsibly for 70 years. It’s not only possible to protect the environment we operate in, it’s essential. And we’re committed to drive continuous improvements along our systems to ensure we’re protecting the communities and the environment in which we operate.
Brad Shamla is vice president of U.S. operations for Enbridge. He is based in the energy transportation company’s Edina, Minn., offices.