Line 3 Recommendation in Minnesota: What does it mean?

Yesterday was the start of the end of the decision process in Minnesota regarding the Line 3 Replacement project.

All eyes have been on Minnesota and Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 Replacement Pipeline.  Enbridge is asking for permission to build a pipeline through Northern Minnesota that would bring tar sands oil from Alberta to Superior.  Currently, there is a Line 3 Pipeline that travels through the Leech Lake and Fond Du Lac Indian reservations.  Enbridge wants to abandon that pipeline in the ground and build a new pipeline in a different corridor.

This new Line 3 would bring 760,000 barrels per day (bpd) of oil into Superior every day. That extra oil being brought into Superior would have to go somewhere, and the only practical solution for Enbridge would be another pipeline through the heart of Wisconsin.

SmallerOil In; Oil Out

Though construction of the Canadian portion of the pipeline has begun, and the small Wisconsin portion has been completed, the process to permit the pipeline in Minnesota has been long and isn’t over yet.  It has included over 1,000 pages of briefs, 17 intervenors, dozens of hearings and public input sessions, and tens of thousands of comments.  Five Ojibwe bands in Minnesota also released their own Cultural Impact Assessment that reflects their concerns and the potential impacts.  This case has had some unprecedented elements, including the inclusion of 13 youth climate intervenors and the Department of Commerce ruling that the pipeline is not needed.

The Minnesota process began in 2014, and is nearing its end.  We’re in the final stages.  Yesterday, the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) gave her recommendation based on all of the information that has been presented in the process.

There were two overarching questions in the docket: 1.) Should Enbridge be allowed to build the pipeline, which the process refers to as “need,” and if so, 2.) where should they be allowed to build it.

The Judge recommended that Enbridge should be allowed to build the pipeline, as long as they build it in the existing route. 

There are a number of other notable pieces to the decision including:

  • The Judge affirmed the rights of the Tribes to determine whether they allow the pipeline to travel through their land, stating, “Just like the Commission cannot bind the BIA [Bureau of Indian Affairs] or require the BIA to grant easements for a route, the Commission does not have the authority to require either Leech Lake or Fond du Lac to permit the replacement of Existing Line 3”.
  • The Judge recommended requiring clean-up insurance and securing a written commitment from Enbridge to be fully liable for catastrophic clean-up of the new Line 3, echoing the requirements that Dane County placed on Enbridge in 2015.

All parties to the case will have an opportunity to respond and then the Public Utilities Commission will make its final decision.  The Commission could:

-Confirm the ALJ’s recommendation to allow Enbridge to build the pipeline only in the current route.  All eyes remain on Minnesota: what will Enbridge do?  The Leech Lake Band has been explicit about the fact that they will not allow the pipeline to be rebuilt through their reservation. (The Leech Lake Band was one of 5 sovereign tribal nations that intervened in the process).  Will Enbridge appeal?  Will Enbridge propose a route around the reservation?

Deny Enbridge the ability to build the pipeline: Enbridge will likely appeal, but for the moment, we would breathe a sigh of relief.

-Give Enbridge permission to build the pipeline, in any route: we need to remain as vigilant as ever.  If Enbridge gets the green light, they will move even faster to try to push a pipeline through in Wisconsin.

Keep watching Minnesota.  The decision is expected in late June, but could come out as early as late May.  We’ll keep you updated with things as they arise.  In the meantime, we need to continue to protect ourselves from another pipeline by working together, calling on our local and state governments to enact protections against unfair eminent domain for private gain and the dangers of the pipeline.

Click here to learn about which group is in your community and how you can get involved.


530+350 = 0? According to Enbridge…

Enbridge regularly puts out an Investor Presentation to let their current and potential investors know what they are planning and working on.  For those trying to decipher what Enbridge’s plans are, it is also the best plan to learn what projects Enbridge sees in their future.  In June, Enbridge released an update of the Investor Report.

Enbridge’s investor report in 2015 was the first place we learned details about Enbridge’s plan to build a Line 61-twin or Line 66.  Information about the project continued to appear in their Investor’s Reports until March of this year, days before students held a March Against Pipelines and landowners were meeting to discuss ways they can protect themselves from unfair negotiations with Enbridge.  Enbridge removed the slide from the presentation and claimed they were no longer planning to build the pipeline.

So that’s it?  There’s no pipeline, right?

The Line 61-twin would be just the middle piece that helps connect the oil being brought into the United States to other pipelines that carry it south.  The pipelines operate like part of a machine or series of gears.  If you just take away one piece of the machine or one gear, you end up with too much oil in one place and the machine does not work.  Enbridge’s system moves oil from Canada into Superior through Northern Minnesota. From there, the oil flows out of Superior through Line 5 and the Line 61 corridor—the pipelines then connect to other pipelines.  If more oil comes into Superior, there needs to be another pipeline to carry that oil out of Superior.  Therefore, we can look at Enbridge’s plans ‘upstream’ to figure out what will be needed ‘downstream’ of Superior.

Let’s do the math:

Slide 11 discusses the Line 3 Replacement.   Though Enbridge calls it the ‘Line 3 Replacement’ and implies a simple replacement of the current pipeline, it will actually be a different, larger pipeline that will almost double the amount of oil the pipeline carries, starting at an annual capacity of 760,000 barrels per day (bpd).  Enbridge has stated it plans to eventually have the pipeline run at an annual capacity of 915,000 bpd.   That means an additional 535,000 bpd coming.  Additionally, Slide 12 mentions a couple of other upgrades to existing pipelines that will lead to an additional 350,000 bpd of oil, totaling an additional 880k bpd coming into Superior.

SmallerOil In; Oil Out

What will happen to that oil?  It can’t be left in Superior, that oil has to go somewhere.  They may have deleted the slide that talks about the pipeline, but you can’t delete the basic arithmetic.

So when is it coming?  Right now, Enbridge is constructing Line 3 in Canada and Wisconsin but has a long permitting process in Minnesota.  The slide that talks about Line 3 Replacement states a goal of having it online by 2019.  They will need to have a pipeline that moves that oil out of Superior online by then as well.  Just like you don’t install air conditioning not to use it, you don’t invest billions in system expansion if you don’t intend to use it.

The real question is: if Enbridge is going to need to build another pipeline, why are they keeping landowners, County Boards, and the communities that are impacted in the dark?  Why wouldn’t the landowners (that they refer to as family) be some of the first to know?

5th Annual Love Water, Not Oil Spiritual Horseback Ride

Native-led organization, Honor the Earth, kicked off its fifth annual Love Water Not Oil Spiritual Horseback Ride in Wisconsin.  The 40 or so riders kicked off the tour with a benefit concert in Madison on July 9.  The following day, they began the ride in Nekoosa and traveled North along the pipeline.  After stopping for another benefit concert in Madeleine Island, they went on to travel the Line 3 Pipeline Replacement route in Minnesota.  The tour raised awareness and resistance about the proposed expansion of Enbridge pipelines in Minnesota (Line 3 Replacement) and Wisconsin (Line 61-Twin or Line 66) and the impacts it could have in Wisconsin and Minnesota, as well as the treaty rights that are being undermined.  Read more about Honor the Earth, the tour, and the Line 3 Replacement here.

Wisconsin welcomed the out-of-state travelers (though some were from Wisconsin). Read on about the different events held to greet them during their time in Wisconsin.

Love Water, Not Oil Benefit Concert featuring Nahko Bear in Madison
The kick-off event began with a press conference outside the Majestic Theater in downtown Madison where Honor the Earth co-founder Winona LaDuke spoke of her experiences resisting pipelines and her hopes of stopping Enbridge. Bill Greendeer of the Ho-Chunk Tribe, Rebecca Kemble from Madison’s City Council, Peter Anderson of 350-Madison, and Elizabeth Ward from the Sierra Club-John Muir Chapter also spoke.

Following the press conference was a sold-out benefit concert featuring Gingger Shankar, Annie Humphrey, Maria Isa, and Nahko. All the funds raised from this concert and the rest of the tour go directly to Honor the Earth to help fund the fight against Enbridge’s expansion.

While the Majestic Theatre hosts sold-out events on nearly a weekly basis, this event carried a different energy. Every artist sang songs of resistance with personal stories and words of enlightenment woven within as the crowd united to stand in solidarity, and of course enjoy the music. Winona LaDuke spoke to the crowd again before headlining artist Nahko took the stage. The crowd erupted in support and raised their fists as she assured everyone, “It is possible to stop a pipeline,” recalling the success of stopping the Sandpiper and showing optimism of stopping the next pipeline.



Potluck in Marshfield
The Green Team of the First Presbyterian Church hosted the riders for dinner at their church.  Exhausted and very hot from the first day of the ride, the riders enjoyed a potluck meal filled with salads and desserts and catered in pulled pork, rice, and beans by Jamaican Kitchen.  Barb Gillespie, founder, and co-leader of the Green Team, welcomed the group and one of the riders said a prayer.  While eating, Kristi Huebschen spoke about the Green Team and how excited they were to have the group.  Then two landowners, Margy Hansen and Keith Merkel, spoke about their experiences with Enbridge and why they are concerned about the new proposed pipeline.

Winona La Duke stood up. Before speaking, the crowd heard from six or seven of the different groups that had joined the ride, many from as far as South Dakota.  Then Winona spoke about her dream that told her to ride against the pipeline. The battles they have fought (and won!) against the Sandpiper Pipeline in Minnesota, and how they plan to win again and stop the Line 3 Replacement.  She also talked about the importance of transitioning off of fossil fuels and the number of jobs that can be created as we do that.

The Green Team was grateful to First Presbyterian Church members and attendees, as together we live out our mission statement and Centering Song – “God welcomes all, strangers and friends, God’s love is strong and it never ends”

Potluck in Gilman, WI

Sixty people gathered on the evening of July 11th in the Gilman Park shelter as part of a horseback ride up the Line 61 corridor through Wisconsin.  The Tri-County chapter of Wisconsin Safe Energy Alliance hosted a dinner for the riders with Honor the Earth, a national indigenous group opposed to tar sands pipelines throughout the Midwest.  Winona LaDuke, co-founder of Honor the Earth and member of the White Earth band of Minnesota, was accompanied by 26 other tribal riders from North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, as part of the Fifth Annual “Love Water Not Oil” tour.

The horses were happily munching through a tall grass field at a local WiSE member’s farm, while children played with the barn cats.  Back at the park, attendees enjoyed a huge array of delicious food prepared and donated by WiSE supporters in Madison (including huge thanks to Healthy Food for All in Dane County), as well as Taylor, Clark, and Marathon counties.  Several riders explained that their experiences fighting their own pipelines were the reason they were riding in solidarity with the people of Wisconsin who face a dangerous tar sands Line 66.

At the end of the meal and speeches, volunteers packed up leftover foods for the riders’ breakfast and lunch.


A dozen or so residents welcomed the riders as they arrived in Ladysmith.  Honor the Earth Chair Paul DeMain videotaped and live streamed interviews from various riders, beginning with Winona La Duke and ending with Bill Greendeer.  Bill noted that in his walking the pipeline last year that most of the people he spoke with were scared of what was or would happen to their land, especially if there was a leak or spill.  But they were afraid to speak up.  He encourages people to not be afraid.  He said, “What do we do if we have a little land, maybe only an acre?  We take care of it.  That’s what we need to do all together we all need to take care of the earth.”


That evening, the riders arrived in Hayward for a meal of spaghetti and side dishes and desserts provided by members of the community.  Lee Balek hosted the event.  The next night, the group stayed for a pow wow and venison stew.

Madeleine Island:
The group then went on to Madeleine Island for a concert at Tom’s Burned Down Café.



5th Annual Love Water Not Oil Tour in Wisconsin: July 9-14

The fight against toxic tar sands pipelines continues, but our resistance keeps growing.

Honor the Earth, a Native-led organization, will kick off its 5th Annual Love Water Not Oil Spiritual Horseback Ride in Madison at the Majestic Theatre this Sunday, July 9th with a benefit concert featuring Nahko, Annie Humphrey, Gingger Shankar, and other special guests.

The annual tour has been expanded to include Wisconsin as well as Minnesota and to fight both the proposed expansion of Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline as well as the suspected Line 61-Twin or Line 66, pipeline project. Both pipelines threaten the environment, property rights, and the treaties that were established in the 1800’s.  Activists will ride horses along the pipeline route, against the flow of oil, connecting to the land and each other while building power and resistance at concerts, potlucks, conferences, and ceremonies.

Please join us at some point on the tour!  As you can imagine, riding horses through the State of Wisconsin works up an appetite!  Click here to volunteer to help cook food or support one of the events!


Tour Schedule:
July 9th – Madison, WI
Majestic Theatre, King Street, Madison
Doors @ 6:00 PM, show @ 7:00 PM
Kick-off event/benefit concert featuring Nahko, Annie Humphrey, and Gingger Shankar
Purchase tickets online ($25) or buy at the Majestic box office day of ($30)
There will be a press conference at 5:00 to kick-off the tour. Please join us!  It will be right outside of the Majestic Theater.

July 10th – Nekoosa, WI
Nekoosa Mounds
10:00 AM kick-off ceremony, beginning of ride

July 10- Marshfield, WI
The Green Team of the First Presbyterian Church in Marshfield will host the riders for dinner. This event is closed to the public.

July 11-Potluck in Gilman, WI–Gilman Village Park hosted by Tri-County WiSE
Riders are anticipated to arrive between 7 and 7:30 and will then be served food.  A short program with speakers will begin around 7:45.  
July 13th – Hayward, WI
Lac Courte Oreilles Pow Wow Grounds
8:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Presentation by Honor the Earth with featured speaker Winona LaDuke and a short performance by Nahko, Annie Humphrey, and/or Gingger Shankar.

July 14th – Madeline Island, WI
Tom’s Burned Down Cafe
Doors @ 6:00 PM, show @ 7:00 PM
Concert featuring Nahko, Annie Humphrey, and Gingger Shankar
Purchase tickets online ($25) or buy at the door day of ($30)

July 16th – Duluth, MN
Bayfront Festival Park
Doors @ 2:00 PM, show @ 3:00 PM
Concert featuring Nahko, Annie Humphrey, Gingger Shankar, Corey Medina, Maria Isa, and special guests.
Purchase tickets online ($25) or buy at the door day of ($30)

July 17th- Duluth, MN
Dr. Robert Powless Cultural Center
7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Mural unveiling ceremony featuring artist Votan of NRSGNTS.
Details still pending, please save the date.
$10 suggested donation

People on the Pipeline

On June 24, Wisconsinites along the Line 61 Pipeline corridor took a day to celebrate. People cycled, picnicked, partied, and paraded to take a step back and enjoy the land they call home—land that is threatened by the proposed new Line 61-twin pipeline.

In Janesville along the Rock River, a group of a couple dozen marched to bring awareness to the danger of the current pipeline, Line 61, which is in the process of being upgraded to carry 1.2 MILLION barrels of tar sands oil underneath the Rock River every day.  A spill of tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River in 2010 caused irreparable damage to the local ecosystems, land, and water.  Rock County residents fear a similar story.

On the Glacial Drumline Trail, a group cycled 15 miles from Cottage Grove (the beginning of the trail) to Korth Park, passing the pipeline crossing near

the Lake Mills Wildlife Area. There, they discussed the blue corn seeds from the Ponca tribe, a gift from Bold Nebraska, the group spearheading the fight against Keystone XL.  “[The ride] gathered people from new groups, it was good to meet people interested in this important issue,” said Margret Bennett, a pipeline pedaler.

In Columbia County, another group gathered for a picnic. There were kites, lawn games, ice cream, and cookies, as well as conversations about what a pipeline spill could mean for farmland and natural resources. Charles Biddle, who hosted the picnic on his land, mowed strips along the pipeline corridor—one strip showed land currently used for the pipeline easement (80 feet) and one showed how much land (200 feet, potentially) would be taken if Enbridge builds another pipeline.

A paddle on the pipeline on the Namekagon River was postponed due to weather concerns, but stay tuned for when it’s rescheduled!

These statewide events brought together landowners, environmentalists, hobbyists and concerned citizens, all with a common respect and love for Wisconsin land. Enbridge, the company who owns and operates the pipelines, is Canadian. They’ve shown they don’t share this respect by trying to take Wisconsin land with eminent domain, not providing comprehensive safety plans to Wisconsinites close to the pipe and putting Wisconsin farmland and water at risk every day.

Pipeline opposition is often framed as a painstaking fight, but last Saturday people reframed this narrative. Connections were made, ice cream was eaten, and time was spent appreciating and enjoying the Wisconsin land they call home.


Landowners Share their Story on Lobby Day

As Enbridge lays the groundwork to build an additional pipeline, current landowners are threatened with the possibility of Enbridge using eminent domain to take their property for the new pipeline, without their permission.
On May 4, over sixty people attended the Property Rights and Pipelines Lobby Day at the Wisconsin State Capitol, hosted by the WiSE Alliance and 80 Feet is Enough!  As Enbridge lays the groundwork to build an additional pipeline, current landowners are threatened with the possibility of Enbridge using eminent domain to take their property for the new pipeline, without their permission.  Their message was clear: a foreign oil company should not be allowed to take our land for their private gain without our permission.   As Paul Wehking, a landowner in Marshall, WI stated: “It is an infringement on property owner rights and against the Wisconsin constitution.”
Kulp Convo

Landowners meet with Representative Kulp (R-Stratford)

Landowners and neighbors met with their legislators to discuss their experiences with Enbridge and ask them to sponsor a bill that would prohibit eminent domain for private gain for oil pipelines.   The group met with 21 Legislators (9 Senators; 15 Representatives) that have districts that the pipeline travels through.  Attendees felt like listened to and had positive meetings.  Many legislators agreed to look into the issue more, do more research, and talk to others.
The day began with lunch and a training.  Many took a bus from Marshfield down to the Capitol.  Most lobby meetings had between 4-8 constituents, though some were as large as a dozen.   For the majority of the attendees, this was their first Lobby Day.  This and the personal stories told made a difference to the legislators.  One Legislator even remarked that the group ‘had a presence’ in the Capitol.
The day ended with a celebration at the Argus sharing stories, meeting each other, and an informal conversation about how we can keep the momentum going!  If you’d like to get involved in reforming our eminent domain laws, let us know!

Conservation Congress Results Show Wisconsinites Oppose the Pipeline

The Conservation Congress votes were tallied and show that Wisconsin conservationists oppose Enbridge’s plans to build a new tar sands pipeline in the ‘Line 61 corridor’.  Enbridge has been taking steps to building a new pipeline through Wisconsin.  Question 72 read “Do you support the Wisconsin Conservation Congress taking an official position to oppose the Enbridge Pipeline expansion?”

“I decided to write up the resolution because I think the issues created by the pipeline (both environmental and landowner rights issues) should be important to all citizens of Wisconsin, not just the landowners where the pipes are buried,” said Kevin Stoddard, a landowner in Rio (Columbia County) who introduced the resolution last year, allowing it to be on the state-wide ballot this year.  He also serves on the Columbia County WiSE steering committee.

The statewide results showed that 75% of Spring Hearing attendees voted in support of the question, including 67 of the 72 (or 93%) counties voting to oppose the pipeline.

Of the counties that currently have Enbridge pipelines, 80.7% of the audience supported the resolution to oppose the expansion, including 17 of the 19 (89.5%) counties voting in favor.  Here is the county by county breakdown:

Adams 18/22 82% Douglas 14/38 37% Rusk 15/22 68%
Ashland* 65/80 81% Iron* 16/21 76% Sawyer 54/75 72%
Bayfield* 53/63 84% Jefferson 44/58 76% Taylor 1/11 9%
Chippewa 31/53 58% Marathon 48/66 72% Walworth 69/90 77%
Clark 24/32 75% Marquette 26/33 79% Washburn 36/41 88%
Columbia 47/52 90% Rock 62/71 82% Wood 44/59 75%
Dane 371 92% *on the Line 5 corridor


1038/1292 80%

Polk County, one of the 5 counties that did not support the question, did vote in favor of holding public hearings and conducting a full Environmental Impact Statement of Enbridge’s Line 61 pipeline.  The same resolution passed in the other two counties (Vernon and Wood) that introduced it as well.

Additionally, in Milwaukee County 86% of attendees supported a resolution to require pipelines be at least 5 miles from a lake or river bank.

Full results can be found here.

Enbridge Isn’t Having a Good Year

8 Weeks in: Enbridge Spills are Popping up all over the news

The New Year isn’t off to a good start for Enbridge.  The news is filled pipeline spills and other concerns.  Unfortunately, Enbridge pipelines are a steady part of these stories.

Since January 1, a pipeline jointly owned by Enbridge spilled over 15,000 barrels of crude oil in Texas allegedly due to a Department of Transportation subcontractor drove a bulldozer into the pipeline,  over 15,000 gallons of light oil spilled in Missouri is still being cleaned up a month later,  over 50,000 gallons of crude oil leaked in Saskatchewan from a pipeline that was purchased from Enbridge last year, and 200,000 liters of oil condensate spilled from Line 2 (one of the pipelines that brings oil into Superior) in Alberta.

Enbridge in the News around Wisconsin

The media coverage continues as well.  In mid- January, the Journal Sentinel released an in-depth, five-part series on Enbridge’s pipeline system.  A daily update was printed for a week, and the whole thing is published online here.  The series was printed in many newspapers around the state.

Kevin Stoddard, landowner in Columbia County, spoke in front of a County Board meeting, sparking this in-depth, local look in the Portage Daily Register.

People across Wisconsin have also been submitting letters-to-the-editor, appearing in the Journal Sentinel, Janesville Gazette, and CapTimes.

Contact us if you want help submitting your own letter-to-the-editor!