Comment Period Ends July 10
If you’ve not yet submitted a comment about the need for landowner choice regarding the abandonment of Enbridge’s old Line 3 pipeline, it is of crucial importance that you do so by July 10.
Comment Period: Written comments will be accepted through Monday, July 10, 2017. Comments may be emailed, mailed, or faxed.
Email address: Pipeline.Comments@state.mn.us
U.S. Mail: Jamie MacAlister, Environmental Review Manager Minnesota
Department of Commerce 85 7th Place East, Suite 280 St. Paul, MN 55101-2198
Important: Please include the docket numbers CN-14-916 and PPL-15-137 on all comments. Comments will be made available to the public via the MPUC’s electronic docketing system (eDockets) and the Department of Commerce’s website, except in limited circumstances consistent with the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act. Personally identifying information is not edited or deleted from submission
Landowners Speak Out/ Grand Rapids City Council Takes Action
The city of Grand Rapids, Minnesota is the first to ask the state of Minnesota to require Enbridge to remove its existing Line 3 pipeline. In the weeks before, landowners made a difference by advocating for their property rights throughout the public hearing process across the state.
According to the Park Rapids Enterprise- ‘…the abandonment of the former Line 3, the EIS states concerns come from potential environmental risks of any existing contamination surrounding the old Line 3 that would never be discovered or remediated, and impacts associated with the ongoing deterioration of the pipeline.’
In Floodwood ‘much attention was given to Enbridge's plans to leave the old Line 3 in the ground after taking it offline and cleaning it out. Though the company will monitor the pipeline as it degrades in the ground, many are urging the state to require the company to remove segments at a landowner's request.
“If a property owner who has graciously hosted Enbridge's Line 3 for decades ... wants that pipeline removed from their property, is it on Enbridge or is it the landowner?" asked Allen Richardson with the group Minnesotans for Pipeline Cleanup, urging state agencies to further study the issue before issuing a final environmental impact statement. "We're establishing a precedent here with pipeline abandonment" '
On June 26, The Grand Rapids city council submitted a letter to the Minnesota Department of Commerce demanding the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Line 3 project address the serious threats pipeline abandonment poses for rural northern communities. The city requested the “total removal of Line 3” and contaminated soils from areas surrounding their municipal water source and any urban developed areas.
Line 3 has had a constant flow of major maintenance work recently near the Itasca Community College.
The existing Line 3 runs through Grand Rapids’ Wellhead Protection Area (WHPA) which is the sole source of municipal water for two cities (Grand Rapids and LaPrairie). The DEIS clearly states that “Soils and waters near the abandoned Line 3 could be adversely affected where undiscovered contamination along the existing pipeline (from lubricants, process chemicals, and oil spills) are left behind.”
Chapter 8 of the DEIS identifies “Potential Impacts and Mitigation Measures”, and briefly mentions how leaving the existing Line 3 in place could have potentially significant effects, including: “...soil and water contamination, the ability of the pipeline to serve as a water conduit, subsidence due to the failure over time of the pipeline, and loss of buoyancy control for the pipeline.
The DEIS’s coverage of abandonment is grossly inadequate. Enbridge’s proposed “abandonment plan” (comprising merely 14 out of 5000+ pages) is to literally leave this mess in the ground and walk away, passing the liability on to the city and landowners. As the Grand Rapids letter states, “It remains unclear as to how a deteriorated Line 3 would handle the removal of the oil, cleaning, disconnecting, and segmenting of the pipeline, as proposed. There is no specific plan within the [DEIS] that states how Enbridge will manage a contaminated site other than " Enbridge has indicated that it would...." (8. 12).” But who will hold Enbridge accountable?
Grand Rapids Mayor Dale Adams and city council members wrote, “The resource in question for our community is our public water supply and we cannot support the abandonment of Line 3 knowing that the impact" could be significant in the long-term."
As it stands now, Enbridge receives powers of eminent domain to build its pipelines, but is not required to assume responsibility for them when their usefulness comes to an end. They are allowed to leave behind what is likely a superfund site. The State of Minnesota, including the Public Utilities Commission (PUC), has the power and responsibility to regulate pipeline abandonment, but there is currently no process in place. Because Line 3 is the first major crude oil pipeline to be abandoned in the state, there is a risk that the PUC will avoid their responsibility.
The State of Minnesota should conduct a detailed independent scientific analysis of potential impacts of abandoning pipelines and the inevitable contamination around them.
Minnesotans for Pipeline Cleanup urge you to contact your own municipal government and ask them to follow the initiative of the Grand Rapids City Council. Thank you to all the landowners who attended the hearings and who have submitted public comments in favor of pipeline removal and landowner choice.
Please send us a copy of any correspondence you have with a municipality. Please do not hesitate to contact us with questions and stay tuned for further developments.
John Munter, Warba
Testimony from landowner James Hietala
Video from Thief River Falls- Minnesotans for Pipeline Cleanup at 1:21
Below, a clearly visible old Line 3 demonstrates the seriousness of legacy contamination