Where did Enbridge learn 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, for a second. That might be because of the 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 came out opposing the pipeline a couple of weeks ago, and well, some 20 state representatives expressed deep concerns about the pipeline process at the PUC.}
So, not sure how Enbridge does math, but I must have learned my math differently. Now, let's think about where Enbridge might have got their numbers. The support might be somewhat true in North Dakota, or at least almost, because the North Dakota PUC has already approved the route of the pipeline. This is not surprising, for several reasons. First of all, preying on elderly farmers is always a good way to get agreements, particularly with the threat of a lawsuit against you if you don't let the company on to your land. Second, let's be honest, North Dakota is a state where oil revenues may have caused policy makers 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 policy makers seem to lack regulation of the millions of gallons of fracking fluid and toxic bi-products 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 still. Except that the Enbridge company is suing James and Krista Botsford who own farm land 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 procured an attorney to defend their farm land, and all of our water. They're hoping there are other landowners in North Dakota who will join them. It turns out Botsford's 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 on the route, nor is Enbridge. This week at the Public Utilities Commission, that route will be discussed with the PUC presently looking only at the 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 pipeline.
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 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. On Aug. 7, the Public Utilities Commission will have hearings on the pipeline route proposals. Enbridge had planned on beginning construction with all those happy landowners by January of this next year but it turns out that not everything works out for the company. And, not everything they say may be accurate.
Love water not oil, that's what I say. I think we actually believe that in Minnesota.