PUC counters Climate Action Plan

Thank you for printing the article by Tim Wulling “Understanding St.Paul’s Climate Action Plan” in the February edition of the Park Bugle. For sure, a very bold and positive goal of achieving “no net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050” and with Xcel Energy making a commitment to be carbon free by 2050. I certainly hope we can attain these goals to preserve life on this planet for future generations.

However, I am concerned that our state Public Utilities Commission seems to be confused about what our goals are for St. Paul and the State of Minnesota as I witnessed them on Feb. 3. They put their stamp of approval to continue allowing Line 3 and tar sands oil to flow through Minnesota.

With the continuation of allowing tar sands oil to be shipped and thus ultimately pumped into the atmosphere and recognizing the proposed project’s life is expected to be at least 50 years; it is important to note that under at least one scenario, the extra greenhouse gas emissions associated with this proposed project may range from 600 million to 1.15 billion tons CO2 assuming the analysis holds over time. More than 1 billion tons of equivalent CO2 emissions are a substantial chunk of emissions. This amount of emissions would surely have a gross negative impact on the city’s and state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The PUC’s rationalization for allowing the pipeline to be rebuilt lies primarily on the assumption that the oil will flow one way or the other, thus the safest route is to rebuild the existing Line 3 through Minnesota on its way most likely to overseas destinations. Little or no conversation or thought was given to just plain keeping the oil in the ground.

Plenty of data showed that we certainly have no need for the oil in Minnesota and that many corporations are divesting from oil because that is not where the future lies. Enbridge lawyers of course were very persuasive in their arguments, convincing the commission of the need for the project including talk of jobs and taxes created etc. There again, no conversation about the jobs in Minnesota that are dependent on certain types of weather that will be lost due to climate change.

In my opinion, the commission’s 3-1 vote (to approve the project) was very short-sighted in its decision. Short-term gain for Enbridge and a handful of workers vs. long-term sustainability of our environment and world.

Barry Riesch
St. Anthony Park

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