MN350 Response to Judge Recommendations on Line 3

This recommendation is an abdication of the state's duty to protect.MINNEAPOLIS — MN350 condemns the recommendation by Administrative Law Judge Ann O’Reilly to issue a Certificate of Need for in-trench replacement of the Line 3 pipeline. This recommendation ignores established climate science, dismisses the expert conclusions of the Department of Commerce and is in direct and disrespectful violation of the wishes of Minnesota tribes. This recommendation is an abdication of the state’s duty to protect.

We agree with Judge O’Reilly’s position that Enbridge’s proposed route is unacceptable. The science is clear: No pipeline, regardless of route, carrying additional tar sands oil to market is acceptable. Judge O’Reilly’s own Findings of Fact conclude that the Environmental Impact Statement correctly estimated $287 billion in social costs of carbon from the additional oil that an expanded pipeline would carry. The judge seems willing to place the burden of these costs — and the associated unquantifiable human suffering — on current and future generations as long as the pipeline is replaced in-trench. We at MN350 are not willing to accept these costs. The climate cost alone outweighs any benefits that have been demonstrated in connection with this project.

Judge O’Reilly’s logic is inconsistent and does not effectively rebut the DOC’s extensive testimony showing the pipeline does not meet need criteria. Rather, her recommendation relies on the department, including many concerns that transcend route, then dismisses those concerns when discussing in-trench replacement. We agree with the DOC’s view that this pipeline is not needed regardless of route.

We are aghast at the judge’s decision to recommend replacement through the heart of native nations that have repeatedly rejected the pipeline. The Leech Lake Band, in particular, has been fervent in its opposition to any pipeline routed through reservation land, including in-trench replacement, and has already termed Judge O’Reilly’s report “horrific.” Shifting the burden of resistance to tribal nations would be a contemptible aversion of responsibility on the part of Minnesota regulators. The Public Utilities Commission must not take this approach in its final decision.

MN350 calls upon the five members of the commission to review the full case record and follow the expert guidance of the DOC. This pipeline does not meet need criteria regardless of route. Approving the pipeline and putting the responsibility to stop it on tribal nations would be unacceptable for all Minnesotans who care about water, climate, and human rights. Deny the certificate of need for Line 3.

Contact: Andy Pearson,, 612-600-5951