Enbridge to Double Carrying Capacity of Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline
In its largest capital project in history, Enbridge plans to do what Transcanada so far can't—ship more than half a million barrels of heavy oil across the U.S. border without President Barack Obama's direct approval.
Late Monday evening, Enbridge announced plans for its largest capital project in history— a $7 billion replacement of its Line 3 pipeline.
The existing Line 3 pipeline is part of Enbridge’s extensive Mainline system. The 34-inch pipe was installed in 1968 and currently carries light oil 1,660 km from Edmonton, Alberta, to Superior, WI.
While the Line 3 pipeline currently has a maximum shipping capacity of 390,000 barrels of light crude oil per day, pumping stations along the line have a much larger capacity (and can accommodate heavier oils). Enbridge plans to take advantage of this. Under the company's replacement plans, the new Line 3 pipeline will be widened by two inches, and built "using the latest available high-strength steel and coating technology." By the time it goes into service in 2017, Line 3 will ship 760,000 barrels of oil across the border every day, nearly double what it currently moves.
At the same time, the new Line 3 will be designated as "mixed service," allowing it to carry a variety of different types of oil from heavy to light. Speaking on a conference call with investors and media this morning, Enbridge CEO Al Monaco said “my lean would be more towards the heavier side, but it will carry both."
Line 3 will continue to operate at full current capacity during the construction period. All construction is expected to occur within the existing pipeline corridor.
Graphic courtesy of Enbridge
No Presidential Permit Required (Because it Already Has One)
Unlike the Keystone XL pipeline or its predecessor Line 67 (also known by its more jovial name "Alberta Clipper"), this project is classified as "replacement" or "maintenance," meaning it operates under an existing presidential permit and does not require a new one. Enbridge proponents made a point of repeatedly affirming this during Tuesday's call with investors and media.
Construction will be managed by two separate companies. The Edmonton to Hardisty segment and the Hardisty, Alberta, to Gretna, Manitoba, segments will be managed by Enbridge’s wholly-owned Canadian subsidiary, Enbridge Pipelines Inc. Enbridge Energy Partners, L.P. will take responsibility for approvals and construction of the segment between Neche, ND, and Superior, WI.
Notably, both projects omit discussion of the tiny—but crucial—three km pipeline segment that crosses the Canada/U.S. border and links Gretna, Manitoba, to Neche, ND. On the U.S. webpage for the Line 3 project, Enbridge states:
Segments of Line 3 from the Canadian border to Neche, ND, and near the Minnesota/Wisconsin border to the Superior terminal are being replaced under separate segment replacement projects.
The Canadian webpage has a similar message.
At the moment, it is not clear what those replacement projects are, or what stage of approval they are in. Enbridge did not return a call to clarify details.
Two Keystone XL Pipelines Per Day
With its announcement, the Line 3 replacement joins three other large-scale expansion projects by Enbridge in varying stages of development or approval.
- Northern Gateway pipeline connecting Edmonton with Kitimat, B.C., is a 525,000 barrels per day pipeline has received a positive recommendation from the National Energy Board and will see a decision from the federal cabinet in the next three months.
- Within the next few weeks, a decision is expected on the proposed reversal of Ontario and Quebec’s Line 9B pipeline. Currently the pipeline ships oil received via tankers from a Montreal terminal to Sarnia, Ontario. If approved, the reversed pipeline would ship 300,000 barrel per day of Canadian-sourced oil from Sarnia to Montreal for international export.
- Enbridge has already completed Phase 1 of its planned expansion to the Alberta Clipper pipeline, increasing its capacity from 450,000 to 570,000 barrels per day. On Feb. 10, Canada’s National Energy Board approved Phase 2 of the pipeline expansion, allowing it to ship at its maximum capacity of 800,000 barrels per day. Approval of the project on the U.S. side is currently delayed while the State Department updates its environmental regulations.
- Applications for the Line 3 replacement project will be filed in late 2014.
Should all four of these projects go ahead, they will collectively increase Enbridge’s daily shipping volume by approximately 1.5 million barrels per day, or the equivalent of nearly two Keystone XL pipelines. The Keystone XL pipeline is expected to transport 830,000 bpd.
Addendum: Here's the math behind the projected Enbridge shipping volume.
Current Shipping Volumes: (BPD)
- Line 9: 0 (its current 240,000 barrel per day capacity does not include Canadian-sourced oil, and flows in the opposite direction)
- Northern Gateway: 0
- Line 3: 390,000
- Alberta Clipper: 450,000
- TOTAL: 840,000 barrels per day
Future Shipping Volumes (BPD):
- Line 9: 300,000
- Northern Gateway: 525,000
- Line 3: 760,000
- Alberta Clipper: 800,000
- TOTAL: 2, 385,000 barrels per day
For a difference of 1,545,000 barrels per day or the equivalent of 1.86 Keystone XLs.
By Karen L. Smith-Janssen
Colette Pichon Battle gave a December 2019 TEDWomen Talk on the stark realities of climate change displacement, and people took notice. The video racked up a million views in about two weeks. The attorney, founder, and executive director of the Gulf Coast Center for Law & Policy (GCCLP) advocates for climate justice in communities of color. Confronted with evidence showing how her own South Louisiana coastal home of Bayou Liberty will be lost to flooding in coming years, the 2019 Obama Fellow dedicates herself to helping others still reeling from the impacts of Katrina face the heavy toll that climate change has taken—and will take—on their lives and homelands. Her work focuses on strengthening multiracial coalitions, advocating for federal, state, and local disaster mitigation measures, and redirecting resources toward Black communities across the Gulf South.
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"These are not just wildfires, they are climate fires," Jay Inslee, Governor of Washington State, said as he stood amid the charred remains of the town of Malden west of Seattle earlier this month. "This is not an act of God," he added. "This has happened because we have changed the climate of the state of Washington in dramatic ways."
'These Aren't Wildfires'<p>Sam Ricketts, who led climate policy and strategy for Governor Jay Inslee's 2020 presidential campaign, tweeted on September 11 that "These aren't wildfires. These are #climatefires, driven by fossil fuel pollution."</p><p>"The rate and the strength and the devastation wrought by these disasters are fueled by climate change," Ricketts told DW of fires that have burnt well over 5 million acres across California, Oregon, Washington State, and into neighboring Idaho. </p><p>In a two-day period in early September, Ricketts notes that more of Washington State burned than in almost any entire fire season until now, apart from 2015. </p><p>California, meanwhile, was a tinderbox after its hottest summer on record, with temperatures in Death Valley reaching nearly 130 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the U.S. National Weather Service. It has been reported as the hottest temperature ever measured on Earth.</p>
<div id="29ad9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8346fe7350e1371d400097cd48bf45a2"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1306969603180879872" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Drought-parched wetlands in South America have been burning for weeks. https://t.co/pjAKdFcKPg #Pantanal https://t.co/ImN2C5vwcp</div> — NASA Earth (@NASA Earth)<a href="https://twitter.com/NASAEarth/statuses/1306969603180879872">1600440810.0</a></blockquote></div><p>As evidenced by Australia's apocalyptic Black Summer of 2019-2020, fires are burning bigger and for longer, with new records set year-on-year. Right now, Brazil's vast and highly biodiverse Pantanal wetlands are suffering from catastrophic fires.</p>
#climatefires Started in Australia<p>Governor Inslee this month invoked the phrase climate fires for arguably the first time in the U.S., according to Ricketts.</p><p>But the term was also used as fires burnt out of control in Australia in late 2019. In the face of a 2000km (more than 1,200 miles) fire front, and government officials and media who <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/trump-climate-change-denial-emissions-environment-germany-fake-heartland-seibt/a-52688933" target="_blank">played down the link to climate change</a>, Greens Party Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and a friend decided that reference to bushfires was inadequate. </p><p>"We both just said, we've got to start calling them climate fires, that's what they are," the Australian Senator told DW.</p><p>Hanson-Young says scientists have been warning for decades that these would be the effects of global heating. "We've been told these kinds of extreme weather events and destruction is what climate change would look like, and it's right here on our doorstep," she said from her home state of South Australia — where by early September fire warnings had already been issued.</p><p>"Calling them climate fires was making it absolutely crystal clear. It is essential that there's no ambiguity," she said </p><p>Having deliberately invoked the term, Hanson-Young soon started to push it on social media via a #climatefires hashtag. </p>
How to Talk About the Urgency of Global Heating<p>The need to use more explicit language when talking about extreme weather events linked to climate change is part of a broader push to express the urgency of global heating. In 2019, activist Greta Thunberg tweeted that the term "climate change" did not reflect the seriousness of the situation. </p><p>"Can we all now please stop saying 'climate change' and instead call it what it is: climate breakdown, climate crisis, climate emergency, ecological breakdown, ecological crisis and ecological emergency?" she wrote. </p><p>"Climate change has for a long time been talked about as something that is a danger in the future," said Hansen-Young. "But the consequences are already here. When people hear the word crisis, they understand that something has to happen, that action has to be taken."</p><p><span></span>Some terms are now used in public policy, with state and national governments, and indeed the EU Parliament, declaring an official climate emergency in the last year. </p>
Words That Reflect the Science<p>But while the West Coast governors all fervently link the fires to an unfolding climate crisis, U.S. President Donald Trump continues to avoid any reference to climate. In a briefing about the fires, he responded to overtures by Wade Crowfoot, California's Natural Resources Secretary, to work with the states on the climate crisis by stating: "It'll start getting cooler. You just watch." Crowfoot replied by saying that scientists disagreed. Trump rejoined with "I don't think science knows, actually." </p><p>It was reminiscent of the anti-science approach to the coronavirus pandemic within the Trump administration, <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/donald-trump-admits-playing-down-coronavirus-risks/a-54874350" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">at least publicly</a>. Fossil fuel companies are also benefiting from his disavowal of climate science, with the Trump administration having <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/opinion-trumps-paris-climate-accord-exit-isnt-really-a-problem/a-51124958" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">pulled out of the Paris Agreement</a> and reopened fossil fuel infrastructure like the Keystone XL pipeline. </p><p>But the science community has responded, with Scientific American magazine endorsing Trump's Democratic presidential challenger Joe Biden, the first presidential endorsement in its 175-year history. </p><p>Hanson-Young says the use of explicit language like climate fires has also been important in Australia due to the climate denialism of politicians and the press, especially in publications owned by Rupert Murdoch. As fires burnt out much of Australia's southeast coast, they were commonly blamed on arson — a tactic also recently used in the U.S.</p>
Climate Rhetoric Could Help Decide Election<p>The language of climate has begun to influence the U.S. presidential election campaign, with Democratic nominee Joe Biden labelling President Trump a "climate arsonist."</p><p>Biden is touting a robust climate plan that includes a 2050 zero emissions target and a return to the Paris Agreement. Though lacking the ambition of The New Green Deal, it has been front and center of his policy platform in recent days, at a time when five hurricanes are battering the U.S. Gulf Coast while smoke blanketing the West Coast spreads all the way to the East. </p><p>People are experiencing the climate crisis in a visceral way and almost universally relate to the language of an emergency, says Ricketts. "They know something is wrong."</p>
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