Minnesota starts new phase for Enbridge pipeline review

The state hands over a 2,000 page report to the Public Utilities Commission on the multi-billion dollar Line 3 overhaul proposed by Enbridge.
By Daniel J. Graeber Follow @dan_graeber Contact the Author   |   Aug. 18, 2017 at 7:08 AM
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Aug. 18 (UPI) -- A final review of a pipeline carrying heavy Canadian crude oil through Minnesota will help regulators reach a decision on Enbridge plans, a state agency said.

The Minnesota Commerce Department completed its 2,000 page environmental review of plans by Enbridge Energy to overhaul its Line 3 pipeline to northern Wisconsin. The document, now sent to the state Public Utilities Commission, includes about 12,000 pages of appendices.

The Commerce Department's report reviews a variety of scenarios for the Enbridge overhaul. Eight different alternatives are 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 state government said the review is meant to inform the PUC and the public, but is not the end of the line.

"The Line 3 project will require permits from federal agencies, most notably the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers," the Commerce Department's report read. "Federal agencies must consider potential environmental impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act."

The project, which is still up for public comments, has faced stiff opposition from Minnesota residents. The company 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. It would then transfer oil to other pipelines for delivery to the United States and Canadian refinery markets.

Enbridge instead put resources behind the Dakota Access pipeline. The company's proposal for Line 3 includes a $4.2 billion Canadian component and a $2.9 billion U.S. component.

"All told, the Line 3 replacement program will fully replace 1,031 miles of Line 3 with new pipeline and associated facilities on either side of the Canada-U.S. international border," the company explained.

The Minnesota chapter of the Sierra Club said the state commission's assessment fell short because it's time frame ended before the pipeline's life would expire and limits the accountability for Enbridge.

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