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Draft EIS released and public comment period begins for Line 3 pipeline

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World Pipelines,

After releasing its draft environmental impact statement (EIS) of Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 pipeline, the Minnesota Department of Commerce has commenced a comment period for the oil pipeline replacement project. According to news sources, the comment period will consist of 22 public meetings, which will be held between 6 - 22 June. Any comments are due on 10 July.

With regulatory approval already obtained in Canada, North Dakota and Wisconsin, Enbridge Energy is seeking to replace its ageing 36 in. dia. Line 3 pipeline as part of a US$7.5 billion project. The original 1960s pipeline is currently restricted to 390 000 bpd, operating at just over half of its original capacity of approximately 760 000 bpd.

Enbridge Energy would prefer the replacement line to follow the existing line, which runs from Alberta to Wisconsin, crossing through North Dakota and Minnesota en route. The company plans to spend US$2.6 billion on the 337 mile section of the more than 1000 mile route that runs through Minnesota.

Twin Cities reports that advocates of the pipeline have suggested that the project could create up to 1500 jobs in Minnesota alone.

News sources have reported that the draft EIS offers comparisons between alternative pipeline routes but does not make a recommendation for the pipeline route that the Line 3 replacement should. It provides key data for regulators to use when deciding whether to approve a certificate and which route Line 3 should take.

This draft EIS is just one of several steps of the process. The draft EIS suggests that a final EIS is expected in August, with public hearings following in the autumn before the Public Utilities Commission decides on the project.

According to Twin Cities, the project “will also need additional approvals from various federal, Minnesota and local agencies, and potentially tribal governments, depending on the route.”

The Star Tribute reports that “if the new Line 3 is approved, Enbridge expects to start construction by late 2018, with an anticipated completion date in the latter part of 2019.”

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