January 29, 2020

Collin Rees, Oil Change International, collin [at]
Brett Benson, MN350, brett [at]

Report: Environmental groups release new analysis contrasting carbon impact of Line 3 with MN climate goals

Data from coalition shows pollution from pipeline expansion would far exceed reductions in emissions

A coalition of 13 environmental groups released a report today showing greenhouse gas emissions from Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 expansion would vastly outweigh planned reductions in Minnesota’s emissions, as the state decides whether to let the Canadian crude oil pipeline cross its cleanest waters.

The “Giant Step Backward” report shows that, by increasing the global availability of heavy tar sands oil, the high-capacity pipeline would set back plans to address climate change, wiping out state gains in the transition away from burning fossil fuels for energy.

“When your house is on fire, you should stop throwing gasoline on it,” said MN350 communications director Brett Benson. “It makes no sense to expand fossil fuel infrastructure in the middle of a climate crisis.”

The report arrives days before Friday’s public hearing on Line 3 before the Public Utilities Commission in St. Paul. Coalition members stressed they assembled “A Giant Step Backward” to place the pipeline squarely in the spotlight of state policy, as leaders otherwise promote renewable energy.

“We applaud climate initiatives like 100% clean energy and increased electric vehicle standards in Minnesota,” said MN350 organizer Andy Pearson. “This report makes it clear that unless we also stop the Line 3 pipeline, we’ll actually be moving backward instead of forward on addressing climate change as a state, even with lots of progress on clean cars and renewables.”

The report also was sponsored by Honor the Earth, a longtime pipeline opponent. “From the beginning of the original Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Honor the Earth has stood with the Minnesota Department of Commerce that Line 3 is economically unnecessary and environmentally detrimental to the people and tribes of Minnesota,” said Winona LaDuke, executive director and co-founder. “We fully expect this rogue government agency will approve the supplemental EIS for an antiquated fossil fuel project directly opposed to the interests of the people of this state.”

“Minnesota’s leaders need to confront the facts,” said Kendall Mackey, Keep It In The Ground campaigner with the national group “An expansion of the Line 3 pipeline will not only put all Minnesota emissions reduction goals completely out of reach, it will cause irreparable harm to the communities, the land, and the water in its path. This is why tribal nations, impacted communities, and many people across the U.S. — not just Minnesota — have made it clear that the Line 3 expansion is a risk we cannot afford to take.”

“A Giant Step Backward” compares annual greenhouse gas emissions by source in equivalent weight of carbon dioxide:

  • Line 3 expansion: 193 million tons
  • All of Minnesota in 2016: 154 million tons
  • Minnesota’s 2050 goal: 35 million tons

The report also highlights how expanding Line 3 would have the greenhouse gas impact of:

  • 50 new coal-fired power plants
  • 38 million additional gasoline vehicles on our roads

Sequestering this greenhouse gas would require an additional 227 million acres of U.S. forests.

“We cannot continue to build new fossil fuel projects like Line 3 and be climate leaders,” Mackey said. “Instead of continuing to extract from communities, our leaders should demand Enbridge Energy pay for the immense damage done by the existing Line 3 pipeline and commit to stopping all new fossil fuel projects.”


Read the full report:

The state and national groups endorsing the report are:

  • Oil Change International
  • Center for Biological Diversity
  • Greenpeace
  • Health Professionals for a Healthy Climate
  • Honor the Earth
  • Minnesota Division of the Izaak Walton League
  • Minnesota Environmental Partnership
  • Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light
  • MN350
  • Power Shift Network
  • RISE Coalition
  • Sierra Club