Enbridge, Line 3, and the environment

This week in the mail, I received an informational packet from Enbridge regarding the new Line 3 pipeline as well as some other facts about their operations. I couldn’t help but get frustrated with the greenwashing (making claims of environmental protections and responsibility to deceive the public) I noticed.

In a part of the state that is generally pro-pipeline, I find this to be very manipulative [of[ the public opinion and frankly outright wrong. For this reason, I’d like to unpack their information to give a better understanding of how their environmental initiatives are misleading and haphazard.

According to information given by Enbridge, in 2019, they transported 3.98 billion barrels of crude oil, 8.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and they generated 1.75 GWh of renewable energy. These three different units, all for different kinds of energy create confusion for anybody unfamiliar with energy. Using data from the US Energy Information Administration, I converted these values to GWh to more easily compare their numbers.

In 2019, Enbridge transported 9,900,000 GWh of nonrenewable energy (7,200,000 GWh crude oil, 2,700,000  GWh natural gas) in comparison to 1.75 GWh renewable energy. To give you a percentage, ~0.00000018 percent of all energy generated/transported by Enbridge was renewable.

To put this small number into perspective, if your net worth was $100 million and somebody took all but the percentage of renewable energy Enbridge generated, you’d be left with $18.

Why is this a problem? Carbon emissions trap heat in the atmosphere effectively increasing the average temperature of the Earth’s climate. In order to avoid catastrophic disasters threatening human existence, according to the Paris Climate Agreement, we have to keep the average temperature from rising 2 degrees Celsius. If that doesn’t seem like much to you, according to the United States Geologic Survey, the last ice age was only 8 degrees ago.

Even Enbridge recognizes the need for “renewable energy as part of the transition to a lower-carbon future.” By believing Enbridge has a climate agenda, the public will be less inclined to demand renewable energy infrastructure. This is potentially devastating for the climate, Enbridge corporation, and anybody invested in Enbridge.

By the time we make a drastic shift to renewables, Enbridge will not have the infrastructure or capacity to remain in the energy market if they do not adapt to the inevitable future of energy. This is not only a matter of environmentalism, but one of economics and prosperity too.

Fletcher Thomas

Cass Lake

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