The Associated Press/WDIO-TV
Updated: June 14, 2021 10:46 PM
Created: June 14, 2021 10:52 AM
The Minnesota Court of Appeals has affirmed key approvals by state regulators of Enbridge Energy's Line 3 oil pipeline replacement project.
A three-judge panel ruled 2-1 on Monday that the Public Utilities Commission correctly granted Enbridge the certificate of need and route permit that the Canadian-based company needs for the Minnesota segment. Enbridge says it is replacing the 1960s-era pipeline because it has been deteriorating and can run at only half capacity.
More than 1,000 tribal and environmental activists gathered at construction sites near the headwaters of the Mississippi River last week to try to block the project.
Enbridge said it is pleased with the ruling, calling it a confirmation of previous decisions over a six-year process.
"From the start, the project has been about improving safety and reliability for communities and protecting the environment," Vern Yu, Enbridge Executive Vice President and President Liquids Pipelines, said in a news release.
"I'm very happy that it's going to be able to move forward here. There are 4,000 people working out in the field right now on this project, and it's very important for our state's economy, and an important investment in our future," Brian Hanson, the incoming chair for Jobs for Minnesotans told WDIO News.
The Sierra Club, which was one of the plaintiffs in the suit, noted in a news release that Judge Peter Reyes wrote in a dissenting opinion that he believes the PUC made legal errors and that the certificate of need is not supported by substantial evidence.
Pipeline opponents are hopeful that President Joe Biden, who scuttled the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office, will stop Line 3 as well.
"Today’s decision is deeply disappointing and paves the way for the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to continue to disregard the health of our communities, water, and climate as well as the ways of life and treaty rights of Ojibwe people. Construction on Line 3 is underway - all eyes now turn to the Biden administration to live up to their commitments to climate action and Indigenous rights by stopping Line 3," said Margaret Levin, State Director of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter.
"Our communities up north are still facing the impacts, and the destruction of construction, and so, really what's important right now is that President Biden has the opportunity, and needs to act now, and use his power to put an end to this project," Brent Murcia, a certified student attorney for the Youth Climate Intervenors told WDIO News.
Enbridge said construction of the pipeline is 60% complete, and the project is on track to be in service by the end of the year.
The Associated Press/WDIO-TV
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