As we mentioned earlier today, Enbridge just announced an enormous new project: the “replacement” of over 1,000 miles of new pipeline all the way from Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin in the U.S. The project is yet another part of Enbridge’s strategy to out-Keystone Keystone XL, mainly by finding ways to transport tar sands oil across North America while also doing whatever they can to skirt regulatory processes. That’s what they did with Line 6B; it’s what they’re doing with Flanagan South; and it’s what they thought they could do with the Alberta Clipper.
Evidently, Enbridge president Al Monaco thinks there’s no question about this one. Here’s what he said on Tuesday during the announcement:
“It does not require a [new] presidential permit,” Mr. Monaco said on Tuesday. “Of course, Line 3 already operates under an existing presidential permit, so what we’re doing here is restoring Line 3 to its original condition.”
That statement may be more wishful thinking than fact; certainly it was an attempt to reassure investors. But the case might not actually be so clear as Monaco would like– or so we hope. That remains to be seen. We’ve also got our doubts that the project is simply a matter of “restoring Line 3 to its original condition.” That’s surely just a classic bit of Enbridge flimflammery: installing a brand new pipe is not, by any stretch of language or logic, restoration. It’s new infrastructure, which will most likely operate at much higher pressures and transport far greater volumes of product– presumably, mostly diluted bitumen– than the existing Line 3. If the current presidential permit is adequate for such a change in operations, there are even bigger problems with the permitting process than we thought.
In addition to those matters– about which there’s a great deal more to be said– what we’ve been thinking about since the announcement are all of the landowners along the Line 3 route. They’ll need to brace themselves. If recent Michigan history is any guide, they are in for a very unpleasant experience.
One bit of good news for all of those who will be affected by the Line 3 project, however, is that another group of landowners has recently lived through– is STILL living through– an Enbridge replacement project. And not only that, those landowners have spent a good amount of time documenting in as much comprehensive detail as possible exactly how Enbridge conducts itself on these projects: the way it (mis)treats and (mis)informs landowners, the way it (mis)communicates with the public, the way it (dis)regards local authority, the way it tries to evade state and local regulations, and more.
All of it–the whole Enbridge “replacement project” playbook– is documented right here on the Line 6B Citizens’ Blog. For that reason (forgive us for saying so), we don’t think the Line 6B blog has ever been more relevant.
We hope, we think, that Line 3 landowners can learn from our experience. Had we and our fellow landowners known going in all that we know now, we would have been much better prepared in every way for the long, painful nightmare that the “replacement” of Line 6B has been. For that reason, we want to do everything we can to reach out to Line 3 landowners, communities, and public officials in both Canada and the U.S. with the hope that they’ll spend some time here, using our experiences as a resource to protect themselves.
If you can– that is, if you know any landowners or groups in Canada or the Great Lakes region likely to be affected by this project– please let them know about us.