Senator Marty Calls Pipeline Project “Litmus Test” of Whether Minnesota is Serious about Climate Change

St. Paul MN – Senator John Marty (DFL, Roseville) described the upcoming Public Utilities Commission (PUC) decision on the proposed Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline project as “nothing less than a litmus test about whether we are serious about addressing climate change.” He cited a recent report published by the National Academies of Science that there is a 1-in20 chance that human-caused climate change will have an impact that is “beyond catastrophic” by the end of the century, threatening the very survival of our descendants.  

This week as climate experts from around the globe convene in Bonn, Germany to address the climate crisis, Minnesota should not consider a big step backwards,” Marty said. He submitted his formal comments as part of the hearings on whether to grant a Certificate of Need to Enbridge to construct their Line 3 Replacement Pipeline across Minnesota. Senator Marty pointed out that under the administrative rules governing the PUC decision, the approval should not be granted unless the consequences to society are more favorable than not granting it.  

His comment letter stated:  

“The environmental review said that the pipeline project will make our climate-altering greenhouse gas emissions even worse than they already are.  There are profound environmental and health impacts that would result from the project’s contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. 

Without this pipeline, the economics of tar sands extraction – already costly – simply don’t make sense, and the oil and gas companies will leave the tar sands in the ground. Expanding rail capacity for transporting tar sands is too expensive and cannot be sustained. 

Certainly, the economy will continue to use fossil fuels as we transition to a clean energy future. However, this pipeline project is facilitating the extraction of additional tar sands oil – the dirtiest of fuels with a greenhouse gas impact as much as 37% higher than conventional oil. We need to minimize greenhouse gas emissions as we phase out the use of fossil fuels over the next few decades, not encourage the use of the most harmful of those fossil fuels. 

Senator Marty’s comments pointed to other environmental impacts of the pipeline project, including spills that would contaminate Minnesota lakes and rivers, but focused on the climate impacts of increased transportation of tar sands from western Canada to oil refineries.   

He described regulatory decisions like this as a balancing act, acknowledging the need for more building trades jobs like those that would construct the massive pipeline. However, he said that decision in this case is “not a close call.” Marty quoted one of the authors of the recent climate report published by the National Academy of Sciences, who explained the risk of “beyond catastrophic” climate impacts: “To put in perspective, how many of us would choose to buckle our grandchildren to an airplane seat if we knew there was as much as a 1in20 chance of the plane crashing?”  

Marty concluded his comments, “with the climate crisis in mind, and an uncertain market for this dirtiest form of oil, this is truly a litmus test about whether Minnesota is serious about addressing climate change. For the sake of the children of today and tomorrow, we dare not fail this test. 

A copy of Marty’s comments to the Public Utilities Commission can be found here. 


Senator John Marty
John Marty represents Roseville, Lauderdale, Falcon Heights and northern St. Paul.

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