Enbridge gets U.S. approval for cross-border pipeline section

The pipeline would move oil through Minnesota, which has already seen its fair share of oil disputes.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Oct. 17, 2017 at 9:08 AM
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Oct. 17 (UPI) -- The U.S. State Department approved a small cross-border section of a Canadian oil pipeline to Minnesota, a state with a strong opposition to pipelines.

The State Department under President Donald Trump said Enbridge could move forward with plans to build a three-mile section of its Alberta Clipper oil pipeline across the border. Construction on the entire network to a terminal in Wisconsin began in 2010 and Enbridge had used existing corridors to facilitate the shipment of nearly 900,000 barrels of oil per day.

The original Alberta Clipper permit was awarded in 2009 and the U.S. State Department, which issues permits for cross-border pipelines, said the three-mile section "would serve the national interest."

According to the Sierra Club, the State Department permit lets Enbridge get around state environmental concerns.

"Minnesotans have made it clear that they do not want Enbridge running more dirty tar sands through their state," Kelly Martin, a Sierra Club campaign director, said in a statement. "Despite Trump's best efforts, communities across the country will not back down in their fights against dangerous fossil fuel projects."

Enbridge has faced continued scrutiny over its safety record in the region. A "pinhole" leak was discovered in late 2014 on an Enbridge pipeline in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, though no spill was associated with the incident. The rupture of its Line 6b artery in southern Michigan in 2010 resulted in the largest inland oil spill in the modern U.S. history of the industry.

The company three years ago connected Alberta Clipper to its existing Line 3 pipeline through to the United States while it waited for approval for the new cross-border section. Enbridge now says it needs to make improvements on its Line 3 system that runs from Canada through Minnesota.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said he was waiting until the entire review process was completed by the independent state Public Utilities Commission. In its testimony to the PUC, the Minnesota Commerce Department said "it is reasonable to conclude that Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built."

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