The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Justice (DOJ) are trying to give Enbridge a handout to support their proposal to build a new Line 3 pipeline through our territories, but we have time to submit public comments and block them. On July 20, 2016, a federal court in Michigan issued a proposed settlement in the lawsuit, United States v. Enbridge Energy. The settlement requires Enbridge to pay $62 million in civil penalties for 2 oil spills, including the catatstrophic spill on the Kalamazoo River in 2010. It also requires them to spend $110m improving their pipeline infrastructure (money they are already planning to spend anyway). This settlement is long overdue, as the Kalamazoo spill was the largest inland spill in US history - 6 years and over $1.2 billion spent, and it is still not cleaned up. But shockingly, part of the settlement (called a "Consent Decree") requires Enbridge to replace its existing Line 3 pipeline, the old and extremely dangerous line in Minnesota that Enbridge has already applied to rebuild.
The consent decree language itself is vague and broad, especially with regard to what replacement means, and it is unclear how the order affects the rights of Minnesotans and tribes with regard to Line 3. It is bizarre for this provision to even be in the settlement in the first place, since it is an entirely different line with its own complex regulatory process underway. The document appears to anticipate that the Line 3 replacement will be in the same corridor as the existing one, but that is of course not Enbridge's plan. They want to build an entirely new Line 3 in an entirely new corridor, through some of Minnesota's best lakes and wild rice beds and through the heart of Chippewa treaty territory. And they are already trying to use this as political cover for their whimsical desires, with total disregard for the ongoing state, federal, and tribal process for reviewing that proposal. We will not stand for this. Please join us in speaking out. The document is not final yet, just a draft.
Friends of the Headwaters and Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy submitted a fantastic letter to the MN PUC about all this.
The deadline for public comments is August 24, 2016. You can submit by email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or mail (Assistant Attorney General, U.S. DOJ--ENRD, P.O. Box 7611, Washington, DC 20044-7611).
All comments should be addressed to the Assistant Attorney General, Environment and Natural Resources Division, and should refer to United States v. Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership, et al., D.J. Ref. No. 90-5-1-1-10099.
The Consent Decree also contains provisions that seem to give Enbridge political cover to continue operating their Line 5 pipeline, the ancient crumbling line that runs from Superior, WI through the Bad River Reservation and under the Straights of Mackinaw. This could be a serious blow to the coalition working to shut that pipeline down, even though it seems that their success is otherwise imminent.
Jeffrey Insko also has a great analysis of the settlement and all its problems.
Read the full Consent Decree here