Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Approves Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project

According to Enbridge, the multibillion-dollar Line 3 replacement represents the largest project in the company’s history. Here, contractors work near Superior, Wis. MPR News

Minnesota regulators have approved Enbridge’s proposal to replace its Line 3 pipeline across the northern part of the state.

According to media reports, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved the $9-billion Enbridge Line 3 replacement project on Thursday afternoon.

MPR News says the decision came with several conditions, including a decommissioning trust fund to ensure the new pipeline will be retired responsibly decades from now. Enbridge will also be required to follow through on a promise to landowners to remove portions of the old Line 3 upon request.

The Globe and Mail reports, a narrow 3-2 decision approved Enbridge’s preferred route for the pipeline, south of the existing corridor, with only slight modifications, meaning the company dodges the potential for lengthy delays and added costs of alternatives.

Indigenous tribes and environmental groups vowed immediately to appeal the decision and maintain their resistance to the project.

In a sign of potential clashes ahead, the commission was interrupted midway through Thursday’s deliberations in St. Paul, Minn., by shouts that it had “declared war on the Ojibwe.”

Native american activists and environmentalists oppose the project, saying it’s unnecessary and would risk spills in pristine areas of the state.

Line 3 also requires 29 additional permits from local, state and federal levels, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton said in a statement. “Approvals are by no means assured,” he said.

Appeals of the commission’s decisions go to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

The Minnesota Legislature also could intervene when it reconvenes next year. Dayton vetoed a bill last session that would have let Enbridge bypass the commission and proceed with replacing Line 3. But voters will elect a new governor and a new Legislature in November.

The total length of the Line 3 replacement is 1,031-mile (1,660-km) from Alberta in western Canada to Wisconsin.

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