Minnesota Groups Question Proposed Oil Pipeline Plans

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DULUTH, Minn. (AP) — Two environmental groups are asking Minnesota regulators to take another look at a proposed oil pipeline in the northern part of the state.

MPR News (http://bit.ly/2d6M6ZG ) reported that the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and Friends of the Headwaters filed a motion Monday with the Public Utilities Commission. They said Enbridge’s plans for replacing a thousand-mile pipeline that carries crude from Canada across northern Minnesota are inconsistent.

Enbridge officials said the nearly 50-year-old Line 3 must be replaced with a new pipeline to maintain safety and reduce future maintenance needs. The company also said the new pipeline would allow Enbridge to boost capacity from 390,000 barrels a day to 760,000 barrels per day.

But a recent proposed settlement between Enbridge and the U.S. Department of Justice over a 2010 oil spill in Michigan appears to allow the company to reuse the original Line 3, even after it builds the new pipeline.

“They’re telling the state one thing, that they’ll permanently deactivate the existing pipeline — leave it in the ground — and they’re telling the federal government an entirely different thing,” said Kevin Lee, staff attorney with the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy.

The groups asked Minnesota to re-evaluate the environmental impact of proposed pipeline and allow public commentary on the project.

The collective also allege that plans for the Line 3 project changed since Enbridge decided to drop the proposed Sandpiper pipeline in northern Minnesota a few weeks ago.

“We’re thankful for the agencies’ effort to prepare the draft scoping document for the Line 3 Replacement Project’s Environmental Impact Statement,” said Enbridge spokeswoman Lorraine Little. “We look forward to the Environmental Impact Statement work getting underway for this important project.”

However, Enbridge points out that it’s already been 17 months since the company first submitted its applications. The company had hoped for a one-year approval process for the project.

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