Enbridge not good at math


Lorraine Little of the Enbridge

Company keeps telling regulators and the public that 96 percent of

the landowners along the proposed route of the Sandpiper Bakken oil

pipeline are friendly and supportive. I don’t believe it.

That might be because of comments

submitted to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission: Some 459

opposed the pipeline route, while 37 were proponents of the route. Of

those opponents, 387 expressed environmental concerns, 131 expressed

concerns about the tribal impact and 347 wanted an alternative route,

outside of the lakes. (Remember Rep. Rick Nolan, D-Minn., came out

opposing the pipeline a couple of weeks ago and some 20 state

representatives expressed deep concerns about the pipeline process at

the PUC.)

So, not sure how Enbridge does math,

but I learned my math differently. Let’s think about where Enbridge

might have gotten its numbers. The support might be somewhat true in

North Dakota, or at least almost, because the North Dakota Public

Service Commission has approved the route of the pipeline. This is

not surprising, for several reasons.

First, preying on elderly farmers is

always a good way to get agreements, particularly with the threat of

a lawsuit if you don’t let the company onto your land. Second,

let’s be honest, North Dakota is a state where oil revenues may

have caused policymakers to lose regulatory sanity. After all, they

are flaring off around $50 million of natural gas because it’s too

complicated to capture it. North Dakota is also where policymakers

seem to lack regulation of the millions of gallons of fracking fluid

and toxic byproducts spilling out of fracking wells and injection

wells onto the land and water, and millions of radioactive filters

left at road side.

There may be some support for

Enbridge; not sure about that 96 percent figure. Enbridge is suing

James and Krista Botsford, who own farmland in Grand Forks County,

for not giving Enbridge an easement to put its pipe across their

land. Enbridge told Botsford that its rights trump his rights. The

Botsfords have hired an attorney to defend their land and all of our

water. They’re hoping there are other landowners in North Dakota

who will join them. It turns out the Botsfords’ case affects all of

our water because property lines are not aquifer borders.

So this is what I’ve got to say to

Enbridge: “This is Minnesota, Enbridge, and we value our water more

than we value your oil.”

In Minnesota, we are not sure of the

route, nor is Enbridge. The Public Utilities Commission has discussed

that route, with the PUC looking only at routes proposed by Enbridge,

not the routes proposed by citizens groups, and in fact favored by

the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Enbridge claims that everyone

likes the route just fine, but actually Enbridge, at every turn, has

opposed hearings, extension of public comments or presentations of

maps at the hearings by anyone but Enbridge. That’s not the

behavior of a company that has 96 percent of landowners welcoming its


The Coalition of Lake Associations,

all of the northern Minnesota Ojibwe tribes and thousands of citizens

have opposed the route suggested by Enbridge. In short, I’m pretty

sure that 96 percent figure is pulled out of, well, thin air. It’s

time to say something – to the PUC, to your legislators, to your

county commissioners and your township commissioners, if you don’t

want a company with 800 oil leaks to put one, maybe two or three new

pipelines across the lakes.

Enbridge had planned starting

construction by January, but it turns out not everything works out

for the company. And not everything the company says is accurate.

Love water, not oil. I think we

actually believe that in Minnesota.

LaDuke is executive director, Honor

the Earth, and an Objibwe writer and economist on Minnesota’s White

Earth Reservation.