June 03, 2019
Today, the Minnesota Court of Appeals decided that the environmental impact statement prepared for the controversial line 3 crude oil pipeline was inadequate due to the near complete lack of analysis of the potential impact of a tar sands oil spill near Lake Superior. This is a significant step forward to stop this unneeded and risky oil pipeline through Minnesota’s lake country.
The proposed line 3 project would carry Canadian tar sands oil to Enbridge’s tank farm on the Nemadji River, just before it empties into the Lake. Heavy tar sands oil can sink to the bottom of any water body it enters, and make any spill cleanup extremely difficult and expensive. Enbridge’s 2010 pipeline spill near Kalamazoo, Michigan has cost more than $1.3 billion to clean up so far, and it did not involve one of the Great Lakes.
Under Minnesota law, the court’s ruling means the certificate of need and the route permit the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission previously granted are no longer valid. It also means that no other state certification or permit can be granted by any state agency unless and until an environmental impact statement that meets the law’s requirements is completed.
“While the court did not agree with us on every point, the bottom line is that the court found that the basic legal requirement of an adequate environmental impact statement has not been met. Until that problem is fixed, nothing can move forward on line 3,” said Scott Strand, senior attorney for the Environmental Law & Policy Center and lead attorney for the plaintiff’s Friends of the Headwaters. “This is an important victory to protect our waterways in Minnesota and we will keep fighting until the end to protect Minnesota’s special places from unneeded pipelines.”