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Will Line 3 Become the Next Major Pipeline Protest?

First it was the Keystone XL Pipeline, then it was the Dakota Access Pipeline, now Minnesota could become  ground zero for the next anti-pipeline protest as the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) nears a decision on the Line 3 pipeline.

Starting today, the PUC will hear one final round of oral arguments from supporters and detractors of the proposal to replace the aging pipeline. The Commission is expected to rule on whether the pipeline will go forward on June 27, or June 28.

MPR reports there will likely be protests by pipeline opponents if Enbridge, the company seeking to build the pipeline, gains PUC approval. Some people have already been setting up camps to prepare for anti-pipeline demonstrations, according to MPR.

In fact, the news outlet reports protesters from across the country are expected in Minnesota this month, and they might stay. If they do, it could turn into a kerfuffle on the scale of the Dakota Access Pipeline protests, where out of state protesters set up camp for nearly a year.

The objections raised by protesters were fueled by an across-the-board opposition to new fossil fuel infrastructure, not constructive, technically-oriented improvements that could be made to reduce the risks of the pipeline while still acknowledging it would be good for our economy and national security.

Line 3 opponents in Minnesota claim they do not want the pipeline because it will transport Canadian oil, the production of which emits more carbon dioxide than other sources of oil.

I suggest that these CO2 emissions have little to do with their opposition. If CO2 was the main concern, there would not have been such staunch opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline, which now carries oil produced primarily in western North Dakota. Producing this oil emits fewer CO2 emissions relative to Canadian crude.

Instead, these pipeline protests stem from the “Keep it in the Ground” movement, which opposes fossil fuel use at all costs. Furthermore, if the Dakota Access Pipeline protests had really been about protecting the environment, the protesters probably wouldn’t have left their protest camps looking like this:

Line 3 is not a fly-by-night operation. It has been thoroughly vetted after a nearly four-year process. This project will allow the new pipeline to move more oil in a more environmentally responsible manner.

The PUC should do the responsible thing and approve Enbridge’s preferred route without imposing onerous conditions on the permit.

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