A new report shows Enbridge spent US$11 million last year lobbying leaders in Minnesota, where the Calgary-based oil company is fighting to replace its aging Line 3 pipeline despite opposition from local tribes and environmentalists.
The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board released data this week that shows nearly all of Enbridge Energy Partners’ lobbying money was used advocating before the Public Utilities Commission, which is an independent regulatory body in that state.
Minnesota Public Radio News reports that it marks the second consecutive year the company has outspent all other lobbyists in the state. Enbridge also topped the list in 2017, when it spent $5.3 million.
Enbridge spokesperson Juli Kellner said the spending was required to present the facts about Line 3 to state agencies “and to give voice to the thousands of women and men across Minnesota who support the replacement of Line 3.”
Last summer, Enbridge gained the commission’s approval to replace the pipeline, which angered Native American tribes and climate change activists who say the project threatens fragile areas.
Last month, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said his administration will keep pursuing an appeal of the commission’s approval, siding with environmental and tribal groups in his biggest decision since becoming governor earlier this year.
The new appeal comes after the Minnesota Court of Appeals in early February dismissed appeals filed by the previous governor as premature and sent the dispute back to the commission for further proceedings.
That move forced the Walz administration to take a stand after weeks of studying whether to continue the appeal or let the matter drop.
Other groups fighting the project say it threatens oil spills in pristine waters of the Mississippi River headwaters region, where Native Americans harvest wild rice and claim treaty rights, and that it would aggravate climate change.
Enbridge said it expects to ultimately prevail. The pipeline currently runs from Alberta across North Dakota and Minnesota to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wis.
Enbridge wants to replace Line 3, which was built in the 1960s, because it’s increasingly subject to cracking and corrosion so the pipeline can currently run at only about half its original capacity. The company says the replacement will ensure reliable deliveries of Canadian crude to Midwest refineries.
It’s already in the process of replacing the Canadian segments and is running the short segment in Wisconsin that ends at its terminal in Superior.
— With files from Steve Karnowski, the Associated Press
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