Port: It shouldn't take eight years to replace a pipeline

Thanks to the extremists, there's never a finish line for these projects.

From left, activists Tara Houska, Jane Fonda and Winona LaDuke spoke of the civil rights and climate change threats they say Enbridge's Line 3 replacement project brings to northern Minnesota. (Shannon Geisen / Forum News Service)
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MINOT, N.D. — Enbridge's Line 3 replacement project is completed.

It took eight years .

The oil is flowing to the dismay of the political zealots who violently protested the pipeline.

"Line 3 is a crime against the environment and Indigenous rights, waters and lands, and it marks the end of the tar sands era — but not the end of the resistance to it," activist Winona LaDuke of Honor the Earth , a hypocrite who uses oil regularly, said in response to the news .

LaDuke, who once described this pipeline as the "ecological equivalent to Auschwitz" and compared the workers building it to the Nazis who manned the "gas chambers," has no sense of proportion. That this dim bulb, and others like her, are taken seriously on important policy matters is an indictment of our unserious times.


But she's right. The "resistance" to Line 3 will continue. Activist lawyers will make more filings for their activist clients, even though all reasonable avenues for regulatory and judicial review have been exhausted long ago. The goal isn't the satisfaction of a legal question.

The purpose is attrition. To punish Enbridge for building a pipeline to transport a product we're all using and dissuade them from building or updating more pipelines in the future.

Thanks to the extremists, there's never a finish line for these projects.


The Dakota Access Pipeline , which was also met with violent protests, has been moving oil for more than four years now, yet its status is still being litigated in court. At one point, a federal judge even ordered the pipeline shut down again (that was overturned on appeal), and the question of the additional regulatory review ordered by that same judge has now been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court .

This uncertainty is harming one of North Dakota's most important industries. Ron Ness , president of the North Dakota Petroleum Council , recently told reporter Adam Willis that "persisting uncertainty around the legal status of the Dakota Access Pipeline, along with the Bakken's distance to market, has given operators more reservation about ramping up their output here," as Willis described it.

Steven Ranweiler, a student at MSUM, holds a Stop Line 3 sign over a No Trespassing sign. Enbridge Line 3 is expected to pass nearby.jpg
Steven Ranweiler, a student at Minnesota State University Moorhead, holds a "Stop Line 3" sign over a no trespassing sign near the route of the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline in northern Minnesota. C.S. Hagen / The Forum


Oil prices are going up, but North Dakota oil production is going down, and uncertainty around DAPL, which has the capacity for about half of the state's output, is a culprit.

Those words may be sweet music to the sort of person who thinks building an oil pipeline is equivalent to Nazi Germany's mass extermination of what they called the "Untermenschen," but to we more reasonable people?

It's a problem.

If we don't want to build pipelines, then we should outlaw them. Only, that won't happen, because we need pipelines.

Instead, we should have a thorough and exacting regulatory process, room for plenty of reasonable judicial review, and then a finish line.

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Rob Port, founder of, is a Forum Communications commentator. Reach him on Twitter at @robport or via email at .


Rob Port column sig
Rob Port

Rob Port column sig
Rob Port

Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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