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Decision due on Enbridge’s Line 3 pipeline

Published by , Senior Editor
World Pipelines,

Reuters reports that indigenous and environmental groups have taken aim at Enbridge Inc.’s preferred route for its rebuilt Line 3 oil pipeline. This comes ahead of an expected decision this week by a Minnesota regulator to determine whether the project can proceed.

A report from Reuters explains the problems with the route options laid out for the pipeline replacement project.

Enbridge wants to replace the ageing 1031 mile (1660 km) pipeline that runs from Alberta, Canada to Wisconsin. It needs approval from the five member Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, which must decide whether the project is needed, and the route.

Public scrutiny has focused on Enbridge’s preferred route, which would follow Line 3’s existing corridor partway through Minnesota before veering south to miss the Leech Lake reservation and avoid a 9 - 12 month pipeline shutdown. An administrative law judge recommended in April that Line 3 follow the existing corridor instead.

The commission this week has also unexpectedly looked at lesser-studied route alternatives, which have also garnered criticism.

The Sierra Club environmental group said that Line 3 should operate as is until regulators ultimately shut it down.

Enbridge’s preferred route is “a non-starter,” said David Zoll, a lawyer for Mille Lacs band, adding that the best solution might be more time to study alternatives.

Line 3, which began service in 1968, operates at half its capacity because of age and deterioration. Its replacement would allow it to return to approved capacity of 760 000 bpd.

Selecting a route is a tricky task for the commission, which must balance concerns about indigenous wild rice harvesting areas and culturally important sites with possible construction delays and a pipeline shutdown that could harm refiners.

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