Planning for Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project started years ago. Throughout the process to look at the route, review the permits and other issues, there have been many voices involved in the conversation. With so much information being shared and gathered about Line 3, it’s important to help everyone stay focused on the facts, address any misconceptions and make sure that information Line 3 is grounded in truth.
Minnesotans for Line 3 has identified some common questions about the Line 3 project as well as information, facts and other background that are important to keep in mind as the process moves forward. The most important fact is how important the Line 3 replacement is for all Minnesotans, why we need it, and how thorough and rigorous the planning process has been.
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Who made the decision to replace Line 3, and when did it happen?
Who made the decision to replace Line 3, and when did it happen?
Several different parties have recommended replacing Line 3. This includes the United States Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, an administrative law judge, as well as Enbridge.
Safe and reliable operations have always been the foundation of Enbridge’s business, and maintaining pipeline integrity is essential to continued safe and reliable operations. As part of Enbridge’s maintenance program they gathered, and continue to gather extensive integrity data on Line 3. Since 2008, Enbridge has safely operated and maintained Line 3 by implementing voluntary pressure restrictions reducing the average annual capacity of deliveries from 760,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 390,000 bpd. This means the pipeline is only able to carry about half as much oil as it was originally designed.
As a result of the integrity maintenance program, Enbridge concluded that replacement is the best alternative to the required ongoing and increasing maintenance activities for this important part of the region’s energy. Replacing the line that was built in the late 1960s with a new, modern pipe will increase safety and capacity.
In April of 2015, Enbridge submitted their application for replacement of Line 3 to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission as part of its integrity and maintenance driven program. Since that time the project has undergone the most extensive Environmental Impact Study in Minnesota history related to pipeline projects. State agency staff spent 16 months drafting a 5,000-page analysis developed in accordance with the law. Over 65 public meetings were held, and thousands of public comments were received into the public record. In 2017, an administrative law judge concluded that from an environmental perspective, replacing Line 3 is superior to maintaining the existing line.
In 2016, Enbridge entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency, both led by Obama appointees at the time. As part of the agreement, the U.S. Government required Enbridge to replace its 1960s era Line 3 pipeline.
On June 28, 2018, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved the Certificate of Need and approved the Route Permit in a 3-2 decision.
What steps have been taken to approve the Line 3 project?
What steps have been taken to approve the Line 3 project?
The Line 3 Replacement Project continues to go through an extensive review process that has already taken more than four years. The review process was created to make sure the project is safe, necessary, and beneficial for Minnesota. This process has included:
- Support from both the Obama and Trump administrations;
- 65 public meetings about the project;
- Support by two Administrative Law Judges;
- Unanimous approval by the Minnesota Public Utilities commission;
- Over 10,000 signatures on a letter of support delivered to Governor Walz;
- Resolutions passed or letters of support submitted by 90 elected officials, cities, townships & counties;
- Public comments delivered by State, Federal & Local officials (38 in support and 3 in opposition);
- The most extensive Environmental Impact Study in Minnesota history related to pipeline projects;
- An agreement reached with the Fond du Lac Band for the replacement pipeline to cross the only Native American reservation on the route;
- Between 2013-2015, Enbridge logged 242,125 field hours – equivalent to 27 years of study surveying wetlands and waterbodies, cultural resources, and threatened/endangered species, as well as countless consultations between federal and state agencies, landowners, and local units of government.
- There have been 5,400 contacts with private landowners in 2017; Enbridge now has 99% landowner agreement with only 2 holdouts.
Line 3 has been the most planned and studied pipeline project in Minnesota’s history. What is even more clear through the process is that it’s time to build Line 3.
Line 3 had an accident in Grand Rapids, MN in 1991. How do we know something like this won't happen again?
Line 3 had an accident in Grand Rapids, MN in 1991. How do we know something like this won’t happen again?
Enbridge did have a release in Grand Rapids, MN in 1991, but the oil was quickly and thoroughly recovered and there was no permanent damage to the Mississippi River. In fact, this year, that area of the river has been identified by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency as one of the cleanest and most pristine portions of the river in the state.
Technology has improved significantly to help prevent accidents like this from happening, and if they do happen, to be able to quickly stop the accident from being catastrophic. Replacing Line 3 will ensure the latest technology will be applied to the Line 3 project and the new pipeline.
Between 2008 through 2017 Enbridge has transported over 22 billion barrels of crude oil and liquids with a safe delivery record of 99.99966 percent. Enbridge’s goal is to strive for zero incidents. From 2011-2016, Enbridge spent $5.15 billion on system integrity and leak detection across their crude oil and liquids pipeline operations. This investment is just one way that Enbridge meets and exceeds government regulations with the latest technology for prevention, monitoring, and emergency response:
- Careful selection and testing of pipe prior to and during manufacture
- X-Ray and Ultrasonic testing of all welds made to a pipeline
- Durable coating systems to protect pipe from corrosion and corrosion inhibitors
- Preventive maintenance digs for any identified features that need closer visual inspection
- On-call, 24/7 protocol in place for rapid response to any incident
- Equipment and resources available along the Line 3 right-of-way
How important is Line 3 to Minnesota's economy?
How important is Line 3 to Minnesota’s economy?
Line 3 is an integral part of Enbridge’s mainline system. It helps ensure that Minnesota and the surrounding region are connected to a secure and reliable supply of North American crude oil. Line 3 is already an important part of Minnesota’s economy at the state, county, and local community level. In 2018, Enbridge paid over $30M in property taxes to the State of Minnesota; since 2015, contributed over $3M in community investments through their Ecofootprint Grant program; has over 350 Minnesota-based permanent and temporary employees and supports thousands of jobs at refineries as well other parts of the economy that depend on having reliable fuel and energy.
The construction work to replace Line 3 will be a $2.9B private investment in the U.S., that is approximately two and a half times the size of the US Bank Stadium project. There is no taxpayer money funding the Line 3 construction project.
Line 3 Replacement project’s impact on Minnesota’s economy:
- Infrastructure Investment: Line 3 represents a $2.6 billion investment in Minnesota, this will be the largest privately financed construction project in the State’s history.
- Jobs: 8,600 quality jobs will be created over a two-year period, including 2,800 hospitality jobs, 4,200 construction jobs (half expected to be filled locally), and 1,600 jobs in other sectors.
- Long-term property tax revenue: Enbridge pays more than $30 million in Minnesota property taxes annually; this will increase incrementally by $35 million beginning the first full year of service.
- Local Economic Activity: There will be a significant boost to the economy during construction, as local hotels, restaurants, and other businesses along the route will benefit.
- Support for Minnesota refineries: Line 3 will provide an energy savings on a per-barrel basis by reducing apportionments and ensuring a reliable source of crude oil delivery.
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Continue to show your support by signing this letter to Governor Walz
Thank you for your continued support of Minnesotans for Line 3. Please join us in adding your name and support to a letter that will be delivered to the Walz Administration in their first week of office. The letter highlights three reasons why Line 3 needs to be replaced and confirms Governor Walz’s continued support of the project:
- The need to replace aging infrastructure
- The thoroughness of the review process
- The importance of investing in local jobs
Governor Walz, please take action; join us with your continued support of replacing Line 3 and direct your agencies to finalize the permitting process promptly.
Join 15,268 other Minnesotans by signing the letter today!
Dear Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan: We look forward to working with you and continuing to make northern Minnesota a great place to live, work and enjoy all that our natural resources have to offer.
We are writing to you, during your first week in office, to convey our steadfast support for Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project, and to ask you to respect the process by rescinding a last minute legal challenge from the previous Administration’s Department of Commerce of a reasoned review and approval of the project by that same Administration’s Public Utilities Commission. We also ask you direct your agencies to finalize the permitting process promptly, to achieve construction in 2019.
For four years, we watched this project – to replace aging infrastructure and further protect water quality in northern Minnesota — being evaluated. We heard Governor Dayton say “trust the process, trust the Public Utilities Commission.” So we did – and we participated.
We went to the 65 public meetings (15 held on tribal reservations), we submitted comments to the official project docket, we attended events, we put signs in our yards, and we wrote letters to the editor in our newspapers. Our local governments and organizations passed more than 90 resolutions of support for the project. Enbridge reached agreements with the two tribes directly impacted by the project.
Finally, after a robust evaluation and careful consideration of a voluminous record, the Governor Dayton-appointed PUC issued permits confirming a need to replace the pipeline by unanimous decision and issued a route informed in part by a thorough and robust environmental impact statement. The PUC reaffirmed their decisions on need and route, again by unanimous decision, in November and December 2018.
After the most comprehensive review in the history of pipelines in Minnesota the previous Administration’s Department of Commerce filed a court challenge to its sister-agency, the PUC’s decision.
Projects like replacing Line 3 do not come along very often. In anticipation of construction in summer 2019, our union halls are gearing up to put the local workforce to work near home. Our local businesses and companies are developing plans and considering the work force they will need to employ and accommodate to meet this economic boom. Our elected and public officials are creating budgets and determining where resources may be needed. This 350-mile project will provide so many benefits across northern Minnesota – all privately funded, infusing millions of dollars into our communities.
As you enter office, we, as a collective coalition of northern Minnesota elected and public officials, business owners, labor unions, and citizens, ask your administration to ensure we all put safety first by replacing aging infrastructure and protecting our natural resources, while investing in family- and community-supporting jobs.
With this in mind, we have three specific requests:
- We ask you to rescind the previous administration’s lawsuit against the Line 3 Certificate of Need and to move this project forward.
- We ask you to direct your agencies to finalize the permitting process promptly, to achieve construction in 2019.
- We ask you to join us in supporting the Line 3 Replacement Project.
We are happy to discuss with you and your Administration how replacing Line 3 will benefit our communities.