As we celebrate Earth Day today, working from a common set of facts is essential.
Let’s agree that companies like Enbridge have an obligation to operate safely to protect the communities and the environment our pipelines traverse. Safe operation is our focus every day, and replacing Line 3 will help us do just that.
Line 3 is an existing oil pipeline that has been operating in Minnesota since the 1960s. In 2016-2017, we agreed with the administration of President Barack Obama to replace the aging pipeline with a new one.
Replacement of Line 3 is completed in Canada, North Dakota, and Wisconsin and is already well underway on the remaining 330 miles in Minnesota. People may not like oil pipelines, but this one currently provides energy to heat homes, fuel cars, and make products on which people in the Midwest depend. Replacing it with a newer, thicker pipe using the latest technology makes it safer and reduces environmental risk. That makes a lot of sense — given the current and ongoing demand for what’s in the pipe.
Going about the replacement the right way matters. Over six years we earned all the necessary local, state, federal, and tribal permits to do this project the right way.
Enbridge consulted with communities along the pipeline’s route. The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe asked that we route around their tribal land. So we did. We made other route modifications that were the result of listening to tribal and stakeholder requests — and many of those reroutes are better for the environment. For instance, one change we made protects a wild-rice watershed sacred to the White Earth Nation.
Furthermore, the Line 3 Replacement Project includes a first-of-its kind Tribal Cultural Resource Survey, led by the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, through the 1855, 1837, and 1863/1864 treaty areas. Its use of tribal cultural experts — who walked the full route, identifying cultural assets and making sure to protect them — is unprecedented.
Indeed, the only two tribes directly impacted by this pipeline supported the permits we earned.
Project opponents continue to present a distorted picture.
They say the pipeline is for oil export. Not true. The pipeline ends in Superior.
They say this project was rushed through without appropriate study. Not true. That belies the more than 70 public hearings held by the three state agencies and two federal agencies that approved the project. It flies in the face of more than 13,000 pages of the environmental impact statement. Line 3 is among the most studied pipeline projects in history.
They say that replacement will create the same greenhouse gases as 50 coal-fired power plants. Not true. It takes very little energy for a pipeline to transport energy and much more to transport it by truck and train.
Most importantly, this project is respectful of the wishes of those directly impacted; improves safety; and protects the environment, the water, and the natural resources we all care about — important facts on Earth Day and every day.
Lorraine Little is director of community engagement for Enbridge, based in Duluth.