In Response: Line 3 a shovel-ready investment in Minnesota


In response to the May 11 commentary, “Post-pandemic, remove, don't replace, Lines 3 and 5,” I write to correct a few mischaracterizations.

The Line 3 Replacement Project is a shovel-ready, $2.6 billion private investment in Minnesota that will create 4,200 family-sustaining construction jobs filled mainly from local union halls. After 70 public hearings, thousands of hours of environmental study and siting reviews, and tens of thousands of public comments, it is the most studied pipeline project in state history. Allowed to move forward, it will protect our environment while making our communities more prosperous by generating millions of dollars in local construction spending and ongoing tax revenues for communities across northern Minnesota.

When the Line 3 project is completed, and the replacement line is in service, we will move on to deactivation. The current Line 3 may be deactivated in place, which would include purging, cleaning, disconnecting, segmenting, and monitoring the pipe as well as the right-of-way around it. This is the most common method of deactivation because it minimizes the environmental impacts caused by removal. If a landowner prefers removal, they have the option to say so through Enbridge’s Landowner Choice Program.

Regarding the need for Line 3, it is true oil prices are close to their historic lows. Yet the average daily volume shipped on our mainline system in the first quarter of 2020 was close to 2,850 million barrels per day. While there will be a reduction in the second quarter, demand is expected to recover during the third and fourth quarters as the economy reopens.

As the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission put it in its current written orders: “The Commission relies on long-range forecasts in its certificate of need analysis because evidence of short-term fluctuations in oil markets are not particularly useful in determining the need for a petroleum pipeline.”


Finally, on the question of what’s best for the environment, we with Enbridge want to draw readers’ attention to these comments of the Minnesota PUC: “Denying the certificate of need is not likely to reduce the transport of crude oil and, as a result, not likely to reduce the overall consumption of oil or the emissions that result.” Put simply, a new, state-of-the-art Line 3 built, operated, and maintained by Minnesotans would not affect oil consumption or emissions. Instead, the project would provide strong environmental safeguards for our state.

Minnesota refineries largely run on crude oil from Enbridge pipelines. For 70 years, those pipelines — including Lines 3 and 5 — have safely fueled Midwest transportation and recreation, have heated homes, and have powered industry.

We have a chance today — when more than 30 million Americans are on unemployment lines and when the technology exists to safely replace Line 3 — to secure our energy supply for decades yet to come.

Jennifer Smith of Duluth is manager of community engagement for Enbridge’s Midwest Region.

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Jennifer Smith

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