Sept. 12 (UPI) -- Testimony submitted by the Minnesota Department of Commerce suggests there's no need for an expansion of an oil pipeline operated by Enbridge Energy.
The Minnesota Commerce Department completed a 2,000 page environmental review of plans by Enbridge Energy to overhaul its Line 3 pipeline to northern Wisconsin last month. Eight different alternatives were outlined. They range from accepting the proposed rebuild of Line 3 as submitted by Enbridge, using other pipelines to carry as much 760,000 barrels of oil per day, or sending additional volumes by trains or trucks.
The project has faced stiff opposition from Minnesota residents. In new testimony sent to the state Public Utilities Commission, the 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" because of steady demand for refined products in Minnesota and the "serious risks" to the environment.
The Line 3 overhaul is still up for public comment and Enbridge had no public response to the Commerce Department's testimony. In a statement emailed to UPI, Margaret Levin, the state director for the regional chapter of the Sierra Club, said the Public Utilities Commission should consider the new testimony closely.
"At a time when there is no market demand for more tar sands, and Minnesota's oil consumption rates are declining, there's simply no good reason to allow Enbridge to build a dangerous new tar sands pipeline across our state," she said.
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said he was waiting until the entire review process was completed, adding the Public Utilities Commission was independent of his administration.
"This document (from the Commerce Department) will arouse considerable controversy," he said in a statement. "That discord should be recognized as part of the wisdom of the process."
Enbridge last year backed out of its planned Sandpiper pipeline, which would've stretched 616 miles from North Dakota oil basins, through Minnesota and to an Enbridge terminal in Superior, Wis., and instead put resources behind the Dakota Access pipeline.
The proposal for Line 3 includes a $4.2 billion Canadian component and a $2.9 billion U.S. component. The Public Utilities Commission is expected to make a decision on the project by early 2018.