Skip to main content
Publish date:

Enbridge's $5M lobbying bill in Minnesota was mostly legal fees

The energy company was the biggest lobbying spender in 2017.

Earlier this week, lobbying figures for 2017 revealed Enbridge as the biggest spenders in Minnesota.

The energy company forked out more than $5 million in lobbying expenses last year, almost $3 million more than the next higher spender and the most in a single year in records dating back to 2002.

But what Enbridge spent the money on wasn't lobbying in the way it's commonly perceived, and that's because most of it was used to "lobby" the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

Different rules for lobbying the PUC

Lobbying under Minnesota law is defined as "seeking to influence legislative action, administrative action, and the official action of metropolitan governmental units."

But the rules for lobbying state lawmakers in the Minnesota Legislature are slightly different from the rules for lobbying government-appointed commissioners on the PUC.

The PUC's code of conduct forbids commissioners from having one-on-one communication with lobbyists representing special interests regarding a matter pending before the commission, with a PUC spokesman telling Bring Me The News it is not "lobbied as one thinks of the term."

Enbridge had a big matter before the Commission last year: its ongoing attempt to replace its Line 3 oil pipeline from Alberta to Superior, through Minnesota.


– Reveled: The biggest lobbying spenders in Minnesota last year.

The definition for what constitutes "seeking to influence" administrative action is broad.

In the PUC's case, it includes representations made during its public hearings, informational meetings and via any documents submitted to the commission or comments made on its website.

That means even a member of the public's comment for or against the pipeline could be construed as lobbying if they were getting paid to make it (more than $3,000 in a given year qualifies you as a lobbyist).

In Enbridge's case, the company hired legal support to make its representations to the PUC, which the company told Bring Me The News accounted for a big chunk of its $5 million lobbying spend during 2017.

Enbridge says this legal support included taking part in 22 Environmental Impact Statement public meetings, attending 18 pub;ic hearings and three weeks of hearings and appearances in front of the PUC.

"Under the laws of Minnesota, legal representation and related support in such matters before the MPUC are considered lobbyist activities and must be reported as such," an Enbridge spokesman said.

"Our 2017 lobbying expenses have increased largely due to the intensity of the regulatory process for the Line 3 Replacement Project."

Next Up

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Man airlifted to a hospital after police shooting in Forest Lake

Police allege that the man presented a threat to officers.

Minnesota Wild

Wild's two third-period goals take down the Lightning

Ryan Hartman's go-ahead goal defeated the two-time defending champions.

Byron Buxton

Reports: Twins reach extension with Byron Buxton

The long-term deal locks in one of the Twins' franchise players.

Justin Jefferson

Vikings-49ers: 5 things you can count on

Sunday's matchup is a pivotal game in the NFC playoff picture.

Gopher Football

Watch: Gophers troll Badgers with 'Jump Around' after Saturday's win

First they took Paul Bunyan's Axe. Then they took their tradition.

Brandon Richart, missing person

Search underway for missing man in Anoka area

Brandon Richart was last seen Nov. 17.

U.S. Bank Stadium

5 teams win first state championships at Prep Bowl

A pair of records fell as the Prep Bowl lived up to the hype.

ashley Carlson

Remains of missing WI mom found in Pine County, MN

Ashley Miller-Carlson was 33 years old.

D'Angelo Russell

D'Lo's late takeover helps Timberwolves win double-OT thriller

Russell caught fire to help the Timberwolves get back to .500.


Revealed: The biggest lobbying spenders in MN last year

Enbridge spent the largest amount on lobbying in a single year since 2002.

Xcel Energy spent most on lobbying at Minnesota Capitol last year

The utility company spent more than $2.3 million on lobbying, followed by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce which was also over $2 million.

St. Paul spent more on lobbying than any other MN city last year

St. Paul spent almost $170,000 more on lobbying than Minneapolis last year.

Minnesota regulators approve Enbridge pipeline

They altered the pipeline's route, but only slightly.

Tim Walz

Minnesota's budget surplus grows, but uncertainty remains

Lawmakers have plans for the cash in what is an election year, but caution is being urged.

Xcel customer? Here's how much your energy bills will go up the next few years

Rate hikes were approved by state regulators on Thursday.

Proposing gun control bills, students warn: 'Come November, we will vote'

Democrats have proposed a dozen gun control bills, and hope at least some will get a hearing.

Minnesota House passes gun background check, 'red flag' bills

The bills face a tougher time getting through the Senate.