Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Pipeline Study, or PR Puffery for Enbridge?

Energy

By Public Accountability Initiative

An economic impact study of Enbridge's proposed Line 3 replacement pipeline released by the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) was financed by an Enbridge-backed business group to which UMD has multiple close ties, all which the study failed to disclose, according to a new report.

The report from the nonprofit watchdog group Public Accountability Initiative (PAI) documents the major undisclosed conflicts of interest surrounding the UMD study, including that the group that requested the study and paid UMD for it, the Area Partnership for Economic Expansion (APEX), is closely tied to and funded by Enbridge, and that, along with Enbridge, UMD is a dues-paying members of APEX, giving it $30,000 a year.


UMD Chancellor Lendley Black also sits on the board of APEX alongside fellow board member Lorraine Little, Enbridge's U.S. director of public affairs, and UMD Natural Resources Research Institute Director Rolf Weberg sits on APEX's Executive Committee, all facts which UMD failed to disclose in its study.

The results of the study that the Enbridge-backed APEX paid UMD to produce have been pushed by APEX and other Line 3 boosters in the media and in public hearings. Other fossil fuel corporations that have publicly supported the pipeline, such as Allete's Minnesota Power, also have close ties to UMD and APEX, the report shows.

"The conflicts of interest surrounding this study are huge," said Derek Seidman, a research analyst at PAI and author of the report. "Public universities exist for the purpose of public education and the public good, not as promotional vehicles for industry-backed research. People making up their minds about Line 3 deserve to have their public institutions support more responsible and transparent studies that aren't so closely linked to the very entities aiming to profit off of the pipeline."

The report highlights other major conflicts of interests surrounding the UMD study, including that the Duluth News Tribune, the Twin Ports region's main newspaper which has published favorable editorials and op-eds on Enbridge's Line 3 proposal that cite the results of the UMD study, is a paying member of APEX alongside both Enbridge and UMD. Duluth News Tribune publisher Neal Ronquist sits on the APEX board alongside Enbridge and UMD.

The Duluth News Tribune has failed to disclose these major conflicts of interest in its coverage of Line 3 and the UMD study, especially the facts that the Tribune is a member of and funds the very group—on whose board it sits, alongside Enbridge and UMD—that commissioned the UMD study.

"These are stark professional and ethical failings on the part of the Duluth News Tribune and its reporting on Line 3 and the UMD study," said Seidman. "People making up their minds about Line 3 deserve to know if their leading media sources, which ideally they should trust, have major conflicts of interest around coverage of the topic."

The report also analyzes the UMD study's methodological flaws, including its use of IMPLAN, a modeling program that can be easily manipulated to arrive at varied results, and its reliance on inputs provided by Enbridge—the very company behind the Line 3 pipeline—to generate the study's findings. The study also doesn't take into account the likely costs associated with environmental damage, declining property values, and emissions that the pipeline will surely create.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The CDC has emphasized that washing hands with soap and water is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Guido Mieth / Moment / Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control has emphasized that washing hands with soap and water is one of the most effective measures we can take in preventing the spread of COVID-19. However, millions of Americans in some of the most vulnerable communities face the prospect of having their water shut off during the lockdowns, according to The Guardian.

Read More Show Less
A California newt (Taricha torosa) from Napa County, California, USA. Connor Long / CC BY-SA 3.0

Aerial photos of the Sierra Nevada — the long mountain range stretching down the spine of California — showed rust-colored swathes following the state's record-breaking five-year drought that ended in 2016. The 100 million dead trees were one of the most visible examples of the ecological toll the drought had wrought.

Now, a few years later, we're starting to learn about how smaller, less noticeable species were affected.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Disinfectants and cleaners claiming to sanitize against the novel coronavirus have started to flood the market.
Natthawat / Moment / Getty Images

Disinfectants and cleaners claiming to sanitize against the novel coronavirus have started to flood the market, raising concerns for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which threatened legal recourse against retailers selling unregistered products, according to The New York Times.

Read More Show Less
A customer packs groceries in reusable bags at a NYC supermarket on March 1, 2020. Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

The global coronavirus pandemic has thrown our daily routine into disarray. Billions are housebound, social contact is off-limits and an invisible virus makes up look at the outside world with suspicion. No surprise, then, that sustainability and the climate movement aren't exactly a priority for many these days.

Read More Show Less
Ingredients are displayed for the Old School Pinto Beans from the Decolonize Your Diet cookbook by Luz Calvo and Catriona Rueda Esquibel. Melissa Renwick / Toronto Star via Getty Images

By Molly Matthews Multedo

Livestock farming contributes to global warming, so eating less meat can be better for the climate.

Read More Show Less