For this week’s Fact Check Friday, we thought it would be a good time to look at some up to date and important information about the energy industry that shows why we REALLY need to rebuild Line 3.

Let’s start with this.  3, one-hundred-car-long-trains (that is 300 tanker cars..) filled with oil. 

This is how many tanker cars are coming out of Canada and into the U.S., every day –  seven days a week, 365 days a year.

I don’t know about you but this is a big deal to me and it will continue to increase as more oil is produced in Canada and there is a growing demand for it here in the US.  As there has been no debate that oil by rail is far less safe than oil by pipeline.  So we are “choosing” right now for a less safe mode of transportation because of a lack of pipeline capacity.  The replaced Line 3 would handle 100% of that volume from Canada shipped by rail.  That is exactly why we need to rebuild Line 3.

The United State Energy Information Administration just released information that shows what happens when more oil is produced and pipeline capacity is not able to keep up

“In December 2017, U.S. imports of Canadian crude oil by rail set a monthly record of 205,000 barrels a day, nearly matching the amount of crude shipped by rail within the United States that month.” The report says this is happening because crude oil pipeline capacity has failed to keep pace with growing production.

Which brings us back to the facts and why pipelines and why Line 3 is so important to our everyday lives.

The biggest questions the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will answer is if Line 3 is needed.  Is there enough demand for the service it provides – moving oil and materials from one place to another – to justify the impact of rebuilding it?  The Administrative Law Judge’s opinion is that Line 3 can’t meet the current energy demands of Minnesota and neighboring states and it “should” be replaced

For supporters of Line 3, this has always seemed obvious to us because the pipeline now can only carry half as much oil as it used to because it is getting older.  The case gets even stronger when you add in future energy demands.

We need a rebuilt Line 3 to not only better handle current energy demands, but to also manage what happens in the future.  The United State Energy Information Administration (EIA) information should give Minnesota scary flashbacks to four years ago when we saw what happened when more oil was shipped by trains for many of these same reasons.

Communities across the state had to deal with the impact of so many long trains running through their towns.  Businesses and farmers could not get crops shipped because of the traffic congestion from oil trains and lack of cars.  Others were concerned about the risks from derailments and the limited regulations for railroads.

Four years later the price of oil has again gone above $70 a barrel.  Canada and North Dakota now can not only produce more oil, they are able do it at increasingly cheaper prices – creating the need and demand for North American oil production to get to market.

This means there IS a growing need to ship oil from where it is produced to where it is needed – and much of it will come through Minnesota to our existing refineries and other locations.  As the EIA states, more of it is already being shipped by trains than ever before and this will only increase unless we can find ways to increase capacity in pipelines.  Remember, when oil by rail goes up, public and environmental safety goes down. An undeniable fact!

The new data makes the case even stronger and we hope will help the PUC make the right decision.  Rebuilding Line 3 is not an option – it is NEEDED.