April 25, 2018 Read More →

Disputed Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline Heads to Minnesota Regulators for Decision

Associated Press:

Minnesota regulators should approve Enbridge Energy’s proposal for replacing its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline only if it follows the existing route rather than company’s preferred route, an administrative law judge recommended Monday.

The proposal has drawn strong opposition because Enbridge’s preferred route would carry Canadian tar sands crude from Alberta across environmentally sensitive areas in the Mississippi River headwaters region where American Indians harvest wild rice and hold treaty rights.

Administrative Law Judge Ann O’Reilly’s recommendation that the Public Utilities Commission should order that the replacement follow the existing route sets up further disputes, however, because the existing line crosses two Ojibwe reservations where tribal governments have made it clear that they won’t consent and want the old line removed altogether. O’Reilly wrote that Enbridge has established that the project is needed, but that the negative consequences to Minnesota of the company’s more southerly preferred route outweigh the benefits. The cost-benefit analysis shifts in favor of approving the project if Enbridge builds the pipeline in Line 3’s existing trench, she said.

The commission is expected to make its final decision in June. O’Reilly’s recommendations aren’t binding on the commission, but they’re the product of an extensive public hearing and comment process and voluminous filings, so they’ll be hard for the commissioners to disregard. Commission Chair Nancy Lange acknowledged at a hearing last month that whatever the commission decides, the dispute is likely to end up in court.

If the project is approved, some opponents have threatened a repeat of the protests in North Dakota near the Standing Rock reservation that delayed work for months on the Dakota Access pipeline, in which Enbridge owns a stake. Similar concerns over the role of tar sands oil in climate change, and indigenous rights, have fueled opposition to Kinder Morgan’s proposal to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline from Alberta to an export terminal in British Columbia.

More: Judge: Enbridge Line 3 project should follow existing route

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