For 65 years, Enbridge Energy has safely delivered energy to several generations of Americans through a pipeline commonly known as “Line 3.” It runs from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin (roughly 1,031 miles, of which 337 miles are located in Minnesota) and carries 760,000 barrels of crude oil every day. The importance of what Enbridge does – shipping crude oil to refineries – can’t be understated: 80% of the energy we use every day for such mundane first-world comforts like heating and air conditioning as well as transportation – come from fossil fuels like those shipped to the US through Line 3.
Much like any infrastructure built during the 1960s, pipelines need regular repair and maintenance. It is after careful consideration that Enbridge decided that Line 3 needs to be completely replaced. This lengthy replacement process began several years ago but became public this year with the Minnesota Department of Commerce holding 22 public meetings throughout Minnesota. The commerce department is just one of many federal, state, tribal and local government regulatory agencies with oversight over pipeline construction, maintenance and operation.
The economic benefits of this project are significant for our state: construction of the replacement Line 3 is expected to cost Enbridge nearly $3 billion just in the United States portion of the pipeline. It is also the environmentally right thing to do: Enbridge has already conducted significant and very detailed environmental and engineering work “to avoid or minimize human and environmental impacts” along the line. Without replacement, the aged and existing line would require extensive and on-going maintenance that would likely be very disruptive to landowners as well as to local communities located along the line.
After diligently working with myriad regulatory agencies for the past several years to begin building the replacement pipeline, you can imagine the surprise when Enbridge was recently notified by the Minnesota Department of Commerce that they would recommend to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that the replacement pipeline not be built: “it is reasonable to conclude that Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built.”
Regardless of what anti-fossil fuel fanatics would have you believe, Americans aren’t turning away from this important form of energy any time soon. And since nearly 60% of all fuel in the U.S. is shipped via pipelines, we would all be well-served to use the safest, most environmentally-sound and modern means of moving crude oil in those pipelines.
It’s unfortunate that the Minnesota Department of Commerce has bowed to the politically correct who oppose the use of fossil fuels and believe that they have the right to tell existing businesses what is in their best interest. Thankfully that state agency doesn’t have the final word on this important project. Let’s hope that logic prevails at the PUC whose commissioners next year will have the responsibility for issuing permits that will allow Minnesota to continue to be part of the civilized world and enjoy the many benefits of oil.