Minnesota regulator signals support of Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline

Enbridge pipeline proposal approved by Minnesota regulators

In an interview with The Associated Press, Guy Jarvis, president of Enbridge's Liquids Pipelines division, said the approval is "not the end of the process, it's the ramping up of a lot of other work".

The pipeline still needs at least 29 federal, state, and local permits.

"I think we have a certificate of need decision essentially made", said commissioner John Tuma. Once those hurdles are cleared, he said, the company could start work in November to get mobilized for "significant construction" to begin early in 2019. The state Commerce Department said past year "it is reasonable to conclude that Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built" because of the risks to the environment. Cathy Collentine of the Sierra Club's Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign says that the Sierra Club is exploring options to halt the pipeline's progress, such as petitioning for a reconsideration of the decision. "They have gotten their Standing Rock".

Enbridge has 60 days under the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approval to negotiate a settlement with the Fond Du Lac Band to determine routing on a short piece of the pipeline that crosses its land, but it will be able to go around if no agreement can be reached.

Canada-based Enbridge calls that a "good outcome for Minnesota".

Pipeline bottlenecks have steepened a price discount for Western Canadian heavy crude this year while refiners in Minnesota and surrounding states say Line 3 is necessary to increase crude supplies.

American Indian activists and climate change activists oppose the project, saying it's unnecessary and would risk spills in pristine areas of the state.

Some supporters of the Pipeline 3 listen during a Public Utilities Commission meeting Thursday, June 28, 2018, in St. Paul, Minn.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commision also took a vote to determine the route of the replacement pipeline, after considering both Enbridge's preferred route and the route Enbridge is now using.

Opponents held a news conference Friday on the approved route where the pipeline would cross the Minnesota-Wisconsin border on its way to Superior, within sight of equipment they said Enbridge has already stockpiled in preparation for construction in Minnesota.

"We strongly agree with the decision to grant the certificate of need for the Line 3 replacement project and by extension the PUC's acknowledgement that investing in infrastructure projects keeps our state safe and economically competitive", the group wrote in an email. Many opponents of the project left the room during the break, which happened shortly after three out of the five commissioners indicated they would likely vote in favor of allowing the project to move forward. Tania Aubid, a member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, stood and shouted, "You have just declared war on the Ojibwe!" "We were giving them the voice for a healthy future".

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