2020 Presidential candidates Amy Klobuchar & Donald Trump, who have both accepted thousands of dollars from top people at Enbridge, the company behind the Line 3 pipeline.
The battle around Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement pipeline has been ongoing in Minnesota for several years. The powerhouse Canadian energy company is seeking to build a 337-mile portion of its proposed 1,097-mile pipeline, which will deliver Tar Sands crude oil from Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin, through Minnesota.
The pipeline, which would replace the existing Line 3 pipeline and have the capacity to deliver significantly more oil, has been strongly opposed by a range of groups in the state, including indigenous and climate groups. It is currently facing delays in the courts and from regulators because of inadequate permitting application materials.
Now, it’s looking like the debate over Line 3 might be going national.
On July 23, Democratic presidential candidate Jay Inslee came out against the pipeline, joining Bernie Sanders, who tweeted out a video opposing Line 3 back in January. As MinnPost recently declared, Line 3 is “becoming an issue in the 2020 presidential race.” All this comes as climate activists intensify their demands for candidates to focus more on climate issues and as CNN is set to host a climate crisis town hall with Democratic candidates in September.
All this raises the question: which 2020 candidates are taking money from Enbridge?
The Public Accountability Initiative reviewed 2019 donations from donors who have Enbridge listed as their employer. So far, donors affiliated with Enbridge have given a total of $8,048.31 to two candidates: Donald Trump and Amy Klobuchar. The bulk of this amount has gone to Klobuchar, a U.S. Senator from Minnesota.
Enbridge donations to Klobuchar
Amy Klobuchar has received $5,600 from Enbridge. The entire amount has come from a single donor, Robert Kratsch, who appears to oversee crucial pipeline operations for Enbridge in Minnesota.
Kratsch gave Amy for America, Klobuchar’s campaign committee, two donations of $2,800 on May 16 – one for the primary election and one for the general election. These are the maximum donations that an individual donor can give directly to a campaign.
Kratsch is a Projects Manager for Enbridge, and his contribution filings locate him in Superior, Wisconsin. Duluth-Superior is one of Enbridge’s three U.S. offices – its U.S. Liquids Head Office is there – and the name refers to the combined cities of Duluth, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin. Duluth-Superior is a shipping hub that sits at the western tip of Lake Superior and the larger Great Lakes system, and it would receive the oil transported by Line 3.
Kratsch appears to oversee Enbridge operations that are central to the company’s transportation of oil from Canada into the U.S. through Minnesota, which includes Line 3. Kratsch has also presented at international pipeline conferences on the construction of Enbridge pipelines.
In 2014 testimony in a lawsuit brought by a group of environmental organizations over a different Enbridge pipeline, Kratsch described his position as “Manager, Design & Construction for Enbridge,” which he had held since 2006. His responsibility at the time was “managing the project execution of the Line 67 Expansion Project.”
Enbridge’s Line 67, also known as the Alberta Clipper, runs parallel to Line 3, and the two pipelines have been closely connected operationally. As InsideClimate News reported in 2017, when Enbridge faced a stalled permit to ship more oil through Line 67 across the border from Canada into the U.S. several years ago, it switched Line 67’s oil into Line 3 in Canada, then transported the oil into the U.S. via Line 3. Then, once the oil got into the U.S., Enbridge switched it back into Line 67. The U.S. State Department, then led by Obama appointee John Kerry, approved this arrangement.
This was the arrangement that Krastch was testifying in favor of in 2014, in a suit brought by a host of plaintiffs that included the White Earth Nation, Honor the Earth, Indigenous Environmental Network, MN350, the Center for Biological Diversity, and the Sierra Club.
In speaking of both Line 67 and Line 3, Kratsch testified that Enbridge had “a multi-million dollar economic interest in the continued operation of both of these pipelines to transport the volumes of oil required by U.S. refineries.”
Donations of $5,600 amount to a significant sum from an Enbridge manager who oversees some of the company’s crucial pipeline operations in Minnesota that have been tied to Line 3. As mentioned above, it is the maximum contribution allowed under federal elections law. These $5,600 in contributions to Klobuchar’s 2020 campaign are the only federal election donations that show up ever for Kratsch in a FEC search.
Klobuchar has taken the No Fossil Fuel Pledge, whereby pledgees agree “not to take contributions over $200 from oil, gas, and coal industry executives, lobbyists, and PACs and instead prioritize the health of our families, climate, and democracy over fossil fuel industry profits.”
It is not entirely clear whether or not Kratsch’s position as Projects Manager with Enbridge falls into the “executive” category.
Klobuchar has failed to take a clear position on Line 3. As MinnPost reports:
On Line 3, Inslee and Sanders contrast with Minnesota’s own presidential hopeful, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who has not taken a clear position for or against the project. When asked what Klobuchar’s stance is on the pipeline and about dissent from tribal governments, her state director, Ben Hill, said only that the DFLer supports environmental review of the project to determine if Line 3 should be built. (State regulators have so far approved the pipeline, although a court recently ordered more environmental study.)
Klobuchar has polled in the low single digits and has struggled to attract donors.
Enbridge donations to Trump
A total of four Enbridge-tied donors have given $2,448.31 to the Trump 2020 campaign through ten donations to Trump Make America Great Again Committee and Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. These donations range from $42 to $1,000.
The bulk of this amount has come from Allen C. Capp, Enbridge’s Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Investment Review, who has given the Trump campaign $2,050 through three donations.
According to his donation filings, Capp is based in Houston, Texas, where two of Enbridge’s three U.S. offices are located.
The Trump administration has been strongly supportive of the buildout of new fossil fuel infrastructure.