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The recent piece by George Erickson in The Reader was filled with lots of hyperbole…and not much in the way of facts. In fact, Enbridge is working to protect Minnesota’s environment by replacing an important piece of energy infrastructure that delivers affordable, reliable energy Minnesotans need today — and will continue to need well into the future.
Minnesotans consume more than 12.8 million gallons of petroleum products every day - gasoline to powers vehicles, diesel for farm equipment and trucks, jet fuel for the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport, and fuels for boats, ATVs, and snowmobiles. Our state relies on imports to meet its petroleum needs. Minnesota’s two refineries produce more than two-thirds of the state’s petroleum products, and 80% of these are refined from Canadian crude oil. All of the pipeline-delivered Canadian crude supplied to Minnesota comes from Enbridge’s system, of which Line 3 is a critical piece. Demand for crude oil is expected to grow even under the most conservative forecasts that factor in widespread use of electric vehicles.
Enbridge shares the belief that we need to materially reduce global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to address climate change. A sustainability study by the International Energy Agency (IEA) suggests that in 2040, 48% of global energy demand will continue to be met by oil and gas, while meeting reduced GHG emissions in line with the Paris Agreement. If the experts at the IEA are even remotely correct, then we need to work together to ensure we have the right infrastructure to reduce GHG emissions across the entire energy system.
Enbridge is committed to cleaner oil and gas. According to IHS Markit, GHG emissions from the Alberta oil sands have fallen by 21% since 2009 with significant improvement to come – some new oil sands production is already lower than the average barrel refined in North America. (IHS, 2018). Producers are committed to reducing the GHG intensity of their operations even further and continue to invest significantly in technology and innovation. It’s also worth mentioning that North American oil producers are held to much more stringent environmental standards than in other countries where crude oil is produced. Also of note, electricity needed to power the Line 3 Replacement Project (L3RP) will be supplied by renewable energy sources (as per the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission compliance requirement) thereby reducing the overall carbon footprint of our pipeline operation.
Research tells us replacing Line 3 will have little, if any, impact on upstream Western Canadian oil sands production. Shippers already have access to other markets and other transportation modes such as rail and therefore unaffected production means no change in upstream GHG emissions. However, shipping oil by pipeline is a safer, more energy efficient and less carbon intensive mode of transportation than rail, and as mentioned above, steps are being taken to reduce the carbon footprint even further. Not replacing Line 3 means more expensive products for consumers with higher GHG emissions.
Enbridge is making a huge private investment in the protection of Minnesota’s environment. The replacement of Line 3 is projected to cost $2.6 billion-dollars and will create 8,600 jobs in Minnesota during construction. In terms of economic impact that is about $334 million in payroll to workers, plus a $162 million construction-related gain for local economies through purchase of local products/materials and use of local hotels, restaurants and services. Also, Enbridge has committed to spending $100 million with indigenous and tribally owned businesses on the Line 3 project. Readers should know that a recent study of the Mississippi River by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency found the upper part of the river to be very healthy, in the area where our Enbridge pipelines have operated for nearly 70 years.
Again, replacing Line 3 at Enbridge’s expense just makes sense, will ensure a safe, reliable, efficient source of energy and will protect Minnesota’s environment and our communities for years to come. And that’s a fact…
Trent Wetmore is Enbridge’s Director of Midwest Region LP Operations and is based in Superior, WI