June 28, 2018
St. Paul, Minn. – The five-member Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) today conditionally approved Enbridge’s controversial line 3 crude oil pipeline expansion project. The PUC found that Enbridge had narrowly met its burden under Minnesota law, based largely on concerns about the safety of the old line 3, but conditioned its approval on removal of the old line 3 instead of abandonment in place and on the development of a financial guarantee package to assure Enbridge does not escape responsibility for an oil spill.
“The Commission unfortunately put the short-term financial interests of Canadian tar sands producers ahead of the public interest in preserving water resources, in addressing climate change and in respecting tribal treaty rights along the proposed route,” said Scott Strand, Senior Attorney for the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC). “This is of course a setback, but it’s likely not the final word.”
The Midwest-based ELPC is representing Friends of the Headwaters, a volunteer-based organization opposing the proliferation of crude oil pipelines in central Minnesota.
The PUC also approved Enbridge’s preferred route with small modifications. The approved route passes near the Mississippi River Headwaters in Itasca State Park, through areas in central Minnesota unusually susceptible to groundwater contamination, through critical wild rice habitat and wetlands, and near the mouth of the St. Louis River into Lake Superior.
Once the PUC finalizes its decision, and issues a written order, the next steps will be petitions for reconsideration, and then eventually appeals to the Minnesota Court of Appeals and the Minnesota Supreme Court. Enbridge also needs to secure permits from federal, state and local agencies before they can proceed.