FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 19, 2019
Enbridge Energy’s record-breaking lobbying spend confirms widespread opposition in MN for Line 3
Environmental group MN350: Unprecedented spending by Canadian fossil fuel giant a form of “political pollution”
Canadian oil giant Enbridge Energy set a record in 2018 by spending more on lobbying in Minnesota than any other organization has since the state started keeping records in 2007. A new state report says Enbridge spent $11.1 million in 2018 to promote its massive Line 3 tar sands pipeline project in Northern Minnesota.
That dwarfs Enbridge’s $5.3 million lobbying spend in 2017, when it also claimed the No. 1 spot, and exceeds the spend of the next 15 organizations combined, according to the Minnesota Campaign Finance Board. Enbridge alone accounted for more than 70 percent of the record-breaking $15.3 million spent in 2018 to lobby Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission.
MN350, a grassroots environmental group, pointed to Enbridge’s astonishing lobbying investment as further proof of widespread opposition to Line 3 in Minnesota. “When multiple state agencies and the judge who built the case record say your project is illegal, how much money does it take to buy the decision that you want?” said organizer Andy Pearson. “For Enbridge, it looks like about $11.1 million, a number that defies common decency.”
Enbridge’s proposal for Line 3 would nearly double the capacity of the current line to 760,000 barrels of oil per day, creating grave concerns for environmental advocates, citizen groups, and tribal members working to protect our climate. Gov. Tim Walz’s administration has appealed the PUC’s 2018 approval of Line 3.
Walz has said fossil fuel projects require a “social permit” in an era of mounting concern, in the Midwest and nationwide, about the climate crisis. During the legal process before the PUC’s approval, 94 percent of public comments opposed the project.
“People power works,” said MN350 organizer Mysti Babineau. “Enbridge has poured a lot of money into greasing the wheels to get this project approved. The reason they have to spend that kind of money is because they’re facing such strong opposition from across Minnesota.
“But you can’t buy off physics. Fifty coal plants of pollution aren’t going away just because our state regulators were bought off with Enbridge cash.”
Mary Breen of Minneapolis is a volunteer leader with MN350. “As a mother of three and a small-business owner, it’s disappointing that government agencies and media outlets were influenced by this jaw-dropping amount of money,” Breen said. “But despite that, Enbridge hasn’t been able to obtain all the necessary permits or persuade everyday Minnesotans like me. This is a testament to the power of regular Minnesotans organizing to protect the future of our state.”
Business groups were the second and third top lobbying spenders last year, totalling $3.3 million. The disparity with Enbridge demonstrates the willingness of fossil fuel interests outside of Minnesota to protect their profits even by subverting our democracy, said MN350 and MN350 Action Executive Director Kevin Whelan.
“Nobody expects the democratic decision-making process to be perfect, but this unprecedented level of spending by a Canadian fossil fuel interest is a form of political pollution,” Whelan said. “This is yet another example of big oil distorting public discourse and ignoring the concerns of average Minnesotans. Enbridge may think $11 million talks, but Minnesotans have spoken more loudly. Minnesota says no to Line 3.”
Brett Benson, MN350 & MN350 Action
WEBSITES: MN350.org & MN350Action.org
STATE DATE: https://cfb.mn.gov/reports/current-lists
ABOUT MN350 & MN350 Action
MN350 is a statewide group with 20,000 supporters working to make Minnesota a national leader in a just transition to a clean energy economy. MN350 Action is its political and advocacy arm.