November 01 2013

The Minnesota-Canada Oil Bond and the Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Proposal

When one thinks of states hit hard by oil prices, California and Hawaii usually come to mind. However, in May 2013 the trend was reversed, with the Midwest (particularly Minnesota) leading the pack in the highest oil prices.

While the prices of oil are based on a multitude of forces, with both domestic economic influences and international relations playing a role, a main contribution to this price increase was the simultaneous closure of three oil refineries in Minnesota.

Gas Station on the corner of 16th and University, Minneapolis, MN

While many blame this simply on the unfortunate timing of events, others are asking for a more dependable source of oil. Presently, many are fighting to increase the capacity of the Enbridge Pipeline, which is responsible for transporting crude oil from the Tar Sands Oil region of Hardisty, Alberta Canada to Superior, Wisconsin.  Enbridge fights to increase the pipeline capacity to over 800,000 tons of oil a day, stating “[they] do not invest in pipelines unless the demand exist.” They also reject criticism that tar sand extraction exceeds greenhouse gas emissions of typical oil refineries.

Map of Enbidge Pipeline, and Plan for Expansion

The Enbridge Pipeline proposal comes in sharp contrast to many Minnesota Environmental Non-Profits such as MN350 and the Sierra Club. Besides the obvious negative environmental effects correlated with Tar Sand Oil Extraction and cross-continental oil pipelines, these groups are also fighting the pipeline on a basis that Minnesota is already too dependent on Canadian oil. While oil production is currently 782,000 tons/day in North Dakota, Minnesota still imports 80% of their crude oil from Alberta, Canada. Even Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar noted on the issue, “One state shouldn’t suddenly have oil prices quick shoot up and gas prices shoot up at the time when we have some record surplus of oil and we saw the barrel just go down to 94 bucks.”

While no final decision has been made on the pipeline expansion, the Minnesota PUC has decided to have a contested case review of Enbridge Energy Inc., and the need to expand the pipeline. This comes as a win for the anti-pipeline activists, who need as much time as they can to gain public opposition to the expansion.

How will the increase in foreign oil affect the economy in Minnesota? What other ways can we lessen our dependence on oil refineries besides higher crude oil imports to create a sustainable future in terms of energy?

Credits: Images by Abbey Seitz and linked to sources. Data linked to sources.

Abbey Seitz

Abbey Seitz is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Design of Art in Architecture and minor in Sustainability Studies from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. Growing up in a small suburb of St Paul, Minnesota, she knew no different than cold snowy winters filled with snowball fights and summers spent swimming in one of Minnesota’s many lakes. It was there that she gained an interest for the urban environment. This interest brought her to study in Chicago, Honolulu, and now Minneapolis, where she has honed her studies; how we can design and repair our cities to be environmentally sustainable and livable. Specifically in Minneapolis, she is intrigued in investigating how livable communities can be created through complete streets, public transportation, and urban agriculture.

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This entry was posted on Friday, November 1st, 2013 at 9:40 am and is filed under Energy, Engineering, Environment, Environmental Design, Environmental Non-Profit, Government/Politics, Land Use, Transportation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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One Response to “The Minnesota-Canada Oil Bond and the Enbridge Pipeline Expansion Proposal”

  1. Technology for Change | Think Globally, Act Locally Says:

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