Go further, Sierra Club tells Minnesota oil pipeline reviewers

Enbridge wants to overhaul its Line 3 pipeline in the state and faces region-wide pressure over its broad infrastructure.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |  Dec. 8, 2017 at 9:15 AM
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Dec. 8 (UPI) -- A Minnesota utility regulator needs to take a stronger stance than it did on a proposal from Enbridge to overhaul an oil pipeline system, the Sierra Club said.

Enbridge is proposing an overhaul of the Line 3 segment of a broader network that extends through parts of Canada and into the northern United States. 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 overhaul is under review by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. The Sierra Club and its supporters said the PUC has expressed concerns about the final environmental impact statement, but said it had broader issues with the plans.

"Minnesotans deserve a full accounting of the environmental risks associated with this dangerous and unnecessary project," Natalie Cook, a representative for the Sierra Club North Star chapter, said in a statement. "We urge the PUC to take further steps to ensure a complete analysis is done."

An administrative judge in the case told the PUC in November the environmental impact statement on the proposal was adequate.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said he was waiting until the entire review process was completed, adding the PUC was independent of his administration. The commission is expected to make a decision on the project by early 2018.

Enbridge is facing regional pressure over its broad network of oil pipelines running south through the United States from Alberta. As part of an agreement with Michigan, the company shut down its Line 5 system running through the Straits of Mackinac this week as a precaution because of inclement weather.

Line 5 runs through Michigan's Upper Peninsula, through the turbulent Straits of Mackinac and then east to Ontario.

The broader Lakehead system in the region ruptured in southern Michigan in 2010, leading to the largest inland release in the modern era of the oil industry in the United States

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