The Duluth News Tribune recently published an op-ed by GAIN spokesman Craig Stevens applauding the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s approval of an updated environmental impact statement (EIS) for the modernization of Enbridge’s Line 3 oil pipeline. The ruling should be seen as a victory for all stakeholders; the replacement of aging infrastructure will improve safety and efficiency and reduce reliance on less safe methods of energy transportation like truck and train. Yet despite the universal merits of replacing the outdated pipeline, environmentalists are discontent. Stevens writes:
The existing pipeline is aging, requires regular maintenance, and cannot operate at full capacity. By opposing the replacement of Line 3, environmentalists are actually undermining their own argument. The new pipeline would ensure safe energy transportation throughout the region while dampening the dangers of truck and rail transport, which can manifest public safety hazards.
From an environmental standpoint, modernizing the pipeline is advantageous for multiple reasons. Stevens elaborates:
Not only do pipelines take the risk off our roads and rails, they do not emit hydrocarbons like their train and truck counterparts. Specifically, replacing rail transport with pipelines would reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by between 61% to 77% for Line 3, as the University of Alberta reported in 2016.
Beyond the environmental advantages conferred by pipeline modernization, projects like Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement strengthen the American economy and enhance national security. The American natural gas and oil industry supports more than ten million jobs, a reality which hasn’t registered with environmentalists and Democratic candidates who have advocated for banning the use of traditional energy sources without providing viable alternatives for employment and energy supply. Stevens concludes:
To underestimate the importance of pipelines on the American energy industry is to ignore the value it has on hard-working industry and union members, the economy, and the U.S.’s role as the No. 1 producer of oil and natural gas in the world. Now that the Line 3 project has satisfied regulators, it is time to take action and modernize an important component of the nation’s energy network.