HTE to bring legal action challenging MNPUC


In December, Honor the Earth vowed to bring legal action challenging the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MNPUC) 4-1 vote to approve the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) – once three minor, technical “inadequacies” are addressed that PUC Commissioners called for during its meeting – for Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 “replacement” pipeline in northern Minnesota.

The vote generally affirms that the state’s FEIS for Line 3 is adequate to meet the environmental review requirements of the Minnesota Environmental Policy Act and to inform the PUC’s decision to either grant or deny permits for the project. If it is ultimately approved this spring, the divisive pipeline could transport nearly 1 million barrels per day of tar sands crude oil through treaty-protected lands, wild rice beds, and pristine waters.

The purpose of the EIS was to inform the MNPUC about the impacts of and reasonable alternatives to the proposed tar sands pipeline.  Unfortunately, the approved EIS does neither adequately. Its deficiencies include:

  • A failure to consider any route that avoids the land, water, plants and animals that Ojibwe rely on for survival.
  • A failure to include a proper cultural resource survey to protect Ojibwe resources and spiritual sites.
  • A failure to seriously consider a ‘No Build alternative’ since it is not the state of Minnesota’s responsibility to accommodate a Canadian oil pipeline corporation.
  • Evaluation of preposterous alternatives proposed by Enbridge instead of reasonable commercial alternatives to building a new pipeline.
  • Oil spill modeling based on an assumption that the pipeline would transport 760,000 bpd, when in fact Enbridge has admitted that the pipeline is designed to transport up to 915,000 bpd of tar sands crude oil – more oil than the Keystone XL Pipeline.
  • The absence of a survey for leaked crude oil from Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline to determine how much it will cost to clean up the existing pipeline corridor.
  • A failure to model an oil spill into the St. Louis River, Duluth-Superior Harbor, or Lake Superior, despite the fact that the proposed pipeline would pass through their watersheds to a tank farm near the shores of Lake Superior.
  • A failure to respond to almost all of the 150 pages of detailed comments submitted by Honor the Earth on the Draft EIS.

In addition to responding in court, Honor the Earth noted that the Minnesota Ojibwe tribes are preparing their own impact assessment, called the Anishinabe Cumulative Impact Analysis (ACIA).

The failure by the state and Enbridge to respect the environmental review process was also exposed by an Honor the Earth investigation into the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s illegal approval of Enbridge construction permits for pipe storage yards for the Line 3 project. This approval allowed Enbridge to buy and store all of the pipe needed for the Line 3 project in Minnesota – nearly a year before the MNPUC will make a final decision. State documents show that it agrees that Enbridge broke the law.

For more information about the PUC decision or the ACIA assessment, contact Martin Keller at 612-729-8585, or