The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) ruled Thursday that Enbridge must publicly disclose projections for potential oil spills on its proposed new pipeline that would cross the northern part of the state.
Meanwhile, the PUC canceled two public hearings on the Line 3 proposal scheduled for Thursday in St. Cloud. The PUC says the city advised of it "logistical and safety issues related to numerous events" being held at venue for the hearings. The cancellations came a week after a public hearing on the issue in Duluth was cut short by protesters.
The oil spill data involves the probability of large leaks from a new Line 3 at seven water crossings. Enbridge submitted the data to the Minnesota Department of Commerce for its environmental impact statement (EIS) on the new Line 3 proposal. But the data was redacted from the EIS when it was made public.
Calgary-based Enbridge plans to replace its current Line 3 pipeline, which transports Canadian oil across northern Minnesota to a terminal in Superior. Enbridge's current Line 3 is aging and corroding, and it's operating at just over half of its capacity due to safety concerns.
A new Line 3, which would follow a new route, has generated intense opposition from environmental groups and American Indian bands. The PUC is scheduled to decide the $2.6 billion pipeline's fate in April.
Enbridge gave its oil spill modeling data to state agencies involved in the Line 3 proceedings, as well as intervenors in the case — including opponents — who signed confidentiality agreements. But the company asked the Commerce Department to redact the data for public consumption, citing trade secrets and security reasons. Enbridge says the data could be used by "bad actors" intent on damaging the pipeline, thus threatening nearby natural resources, too.
In August, an administrative law judge overseeing the Line 3 case determined that the redacted data should be available publicly, saying it "is not likely to substantially jeopardize the security of Line 3," according to the PUC briefing papers.
The PUC commissioners agreed, basically saying there's plenty of public information available already to potential saboteurs, and the data currently being redacted isn't critical to security. The PUC voted 3-0 to release the spill information, with two commissioners absent Thursday.
Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003