Enbridge Pays $11M In Fines Related To Line 3 Pipeline Aquifer Breaches
A series of aquifer breaches that occurred as a result of the construction process for the Line 3 Pipeline will cost Enbridge Energy a lot of money in fines. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency levied $11 million in fines against the company that's based in Calgary, Canada but has a large footprint in the United States - especially in the Northland.
The fines were brought about by three specific aquifer breaches, according to an article in the Superior Telegram [paywall]: "near Enbrige's Clearbrook Terminal, LaSalle Creek in Hubbard County, and just west of the Fond du Lac Reservation".
Additionally, the Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency also concluded that Enbridge Energy had other violations:
"[They] found that Enbridge 'violated a series of regulations and requirements including discharging construction stormwater into wetlands and inadvertently releasing drilling mud into surface waters at 12 locations."
There was also the disclosure that Enbridge Energy made admissions to their role in a aquifer breach that happened in Clearwater County; that specific incident was compounded by the fact that the company "should have understood that the aquifer breach resulted from construction activity, and that it delayed notifying the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources about the breach as required".
The announcement brought with it responses from both sides of the Line 3 Pipeline issue. MPCA Commissioner Katrina Kessler offered:
"At the start of this project, the MPCA issued our most stringent water quality certification to date and permits that were strong, enforceable, and protective - and this enforcement action holds Enbridge accountable for the violations that occurred during construction."
Meanwhile, Fond du Lac Band Chairperson Kevin Dupuis said in a statement:
"Today we assert our sovereignty through this enforcement action and demonstrate that the Fond du Lac Band will hold accountable any actors that violate our strong environmental standards."
Public comment on the fine and the action came from Enbridge Energy in the form of statement from Spokesperson Juli Kellner:
"We appreciate that we were able to come to agreement with the agencies and are committed to making this right."
At the same time, supporters of the Line 3 Pipeline made the observation about the timing of the fine announcement and the upcoming election cycle. In a joint statement, State Representatives Josh Heintzemen - Nisswa and Spencer Igo - Grand Rapids shared"
"It's clear these fines - which are coming less than a month before the election and 12 months after the project was completed - are politically motivated by the demands of the far-left Democrat environmentalists."
The total amount of that Enbridge Energy will pay is $11 million. Included in that payment is $1.45 million to the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, 2.4 million to the State of Minnesota, and $2.6 million to "fund environmental projects in affected watersheds along Line 3".