Community members are deeply concerned about the consequences of Enbridge's proposal to abandon its existing Line 3 pipeline If Enbridge shuts down Line 3, we believe they have legal, financial, and moral responsibility to address any potential liability that the decommissioned pipeline would pose for landowners.
The Duluth News Tribune recently published an opinion piece titled, "Though Enbridge's Line 3 oil pipeline replacement project is far from approved, debate already is stirring: What happens to old Line 3?"
The article begins with quotes from Enbridge CEO Al Monaco claiming that Enbridge can't clean up the old Line 3 because it would disturb the land too much.
But Itasca County landowner James Hietala blows that argument out of the water.
"Enbridge likes to do whatever is fastest, easiest, and cheapest. It's just the way they operate. ... When I look at this whole abandonment plan, what I see is the same thing I've seen with their operations: the fastest, easiest, and cheapest option for them. And when they analyze it, look at different options, the one thing that really strikes me is they never talk about the landowners. This isn't (Enbridge's) land. It's their pipe. It's not their land. They don't talk about what I want. ...
"There very well may be landowners who say, 'Leave it. Don't touch it. You're going to make a bigger mess. I don't want to deal with it.' There may be landowners like me who, I never wanted it there. It was forced on us. I want it out of the ground, period. Get it out. Clean it up. Remove it. Why aren't our opinions anywhere in their analysis? ... I'm this little guy here here. They're big with all the rights. What they want they get. ... They should respect the landowners' rights."
— landowner James Hietala, of Warba
The State of Minnesota's Environmental Impact Statement acknowledges the long list of environmental problems that abandoning a pipeline could cause, and the serious liability that it poses for landowners and future stewards of the land that we all love. Good news, the people of Minnesota are coming together to demand cleanup, and good jobs doing that cleanup, wherever (and only wherever) landowners choose it.
Enbridge Energy has proposed to shut down and abandon its Line 3 crude oil pipeline, without addressing soil and water contamination or removing the pipe. This would pass on an enormous financial liability to landowners along the line, and to our children and grandchildren. The State of Minnesota has no plan to deal with this dangerous situation or to protect landowners from that liability. But community members across the north are coming together to demand that the State of Minnesota take action, so that individuals do not have to face this alone. Enbridge has a responsibility to put hard working Minnesotans to work cleaning up its mess. Our property rights, land, and fresh water are at stake.
DEATH OF A PIPELINE:
Line 3 is one of 6 pipelines in Enbridge’s Main-line system. It ships tar sands crude oil from Alberta to Superior, WI, crossing Northern Minnesota for 300 miles. Line 3 was built in l96l and is now at the end of its life. According to Enbridge data, it currently has over 900 “structural integrity anomalies,” including corrosion and long seam cracking. As a result, it has experienced a number of failures during its 55 years of history. Enbridge is now operating the line at reduced volumes and pressures, to reduce the chances of a catastrophic rupture. Fixing these “anomalies” is very expensive, so Enbridge wants to decommission and abandon the pipeline, walk away, and build a new one in a new corridor.
RISK AND LIABILITY:
The pipeline likely has many sites of contaminated soil and water around it already, from old leaks and spills. There is likely also contamination from residual oil, lubricants, treatment chemicals, and pipeline coatings. When discovered, this could become the responsibility of landowners. And as it corrodes, the pipe will eventually become a water conduit that could easily drain a wetland or small lake, or flood a farm field.
NEED FOR REGULATION:
The US has vague, inadequate laws on pipeline abandonment, so the responsibility to protect landowners rests with the states. However, Minnesota has no abandonment regulations. The MN Public Utilities Commission does have the authority to regulate abandonment as part of the new Line 3 permitting process, but they will only do so if landowners demand it. Otherwise, if Enbridge is not required to remove the pipeline and restore the damaged ecosystems, there may never be a full accounting of the existing and future contamination. And this has never happened before in Minnesota, so if approved, it could set dangerous precedent that would then allow Enbridge to abandon the other 3 ancient pipelines in its Mainline corridor. In contrast, the National Energy Board of Canada thoroughly regulates all aspects of pipeline abandonment, and has ordered Enbridge to set aside nearly $1 billion to pay for future removals and cleanups. Minnesota could do the same, and that is an investment we deserve too.
WHAT CAN YOU DO?
- Visit our website (www.pipelinecleanupmn.org) and contact us for more info and support
- Voice your concerns to your elected officials, especially Governor Dayton (651-201-3400)
- Join other landowners intervening in the MN Public Utilities Commission permit process for the new Line 3
- Talk to your neighbors, church groups, lake associations, etc.
- Write an op-ed in your local paper