PUC Approval of Environmental Impact Statement for the Line 3 “Replacement” Project Ignores Tribal Concerns, Is Based on Biased Oil Industry Assumptions, and Fails to Fully Investigate Risks to Land, Water, and Air
HONOR THE EARTH VOWS LEGAL CHALLENGE TO PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION DECISION TO APPROVE THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT STATEMENT FOR THE ENBRIDGE LINE 3 ‘REPLACEMENT” PIPELINE
St. Paul, Minn., -- December 7, 2017 – Honor the Earth vowed to bring legal action today challenging the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC)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 this afternoon -- 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 next 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.
Winona LaDuke, Executive Director and co-founder of Honor the Earth, condemned the decision: "We are deeply disappointed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s approval of a profoundly flawed Environmental Impact Statement. Honor the Earth will challenge this decision in court."
"The EIS failed to include a proper cultural resources survey that respects tribally owned resources and native spiritual practice, and it is based on biased assumptions provided to the state by Enbridge," she added. "It also fails to consider significant risks and impacts, such as an oil spill into Lake Superior and the Duluth- Superior Harbor. To quote Brent Murcia, one of our Youth Climate Interveners in this process from today's meeting, 'If we were to turn in this FEIS to one of our professors we’re not sure we would get a good grade on it.' "
"The purpose of the EIS was to fully 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 ever seriously consider a 'No Build alternative' since fundamentally 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 existing 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."
“This EIS is another example of government paperwork that contains many words but nonetheless fails to protect us," LaDuke stated. "We wanted the EIS to fully address the legitimate and heartfelt concerns of real people, including concerns for the safety of the land and water that give them life and give their lives meaning. We wanted the MNPUC to take a hard look at impacts and alternatives, but it didn’t.”
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). "When the state ignored most of our comments on the Draft EIS, the writing was on the wall that native people would themselves need to assess the impacts and risks of this proposed pipeline. We have a long history of broken promises,” LaDuke emphasized.
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.
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