Enbridge gets final federal permit for Line 3

The Enbridge Line 3 pipeline replacement project is already complete in Wisconsin. The Enbridge Line 3 pipeline replacement project is already complete in Wisconsin. |  Photo: Enbridge, file

Updated: November 23, 2020 06:01 PM
Created: November 23, 2020 04:36 PM

Enbridge has received the last federal permit needed to replace its Line 3 oil pipeline across Minnesota, leaving only a few state approvals before construction can begin.

Monday's approval was from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps issued a permit to Enbridge for construction-related impacts to waters, saying in a news release that it determined the Line 3 project is compliant with all federal laws and regulations.

Earlier this month, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Minnesota Department of Natural Resources gave other key approvals for Line 3. Enbridge still needs a stormwater permit from the MPCA and an authorization to construct from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

The company suggested in a statement on Monday that construction could begin before the end of 2020. It also said that it has now come to an agreement with all private landowners along the planned Line 3 route in Minnesota.

Col. Karl Jansen, the Corps' St. Paul District commander, said the decision is based on balancing development with protecting the environment.

"Our decision follows an exhaustive review of the application and the potential impacts associated with the construction of the pipeline within federally protected waters. Our staff worked deliberately and extensively with our federal and state partners, federally recognized Tribes, environmental organizations and the applicant. I believe our decision is based on sound science and strikes the balance between protecting natural resources and allowing reasonable development," Jansen said in the news release.

The Corps noted that its approval only deals with work within waters protected by the federal government. It does not address the siting of the pipeline or the oil that will flow through it.

In a statement, Enbridge lauded the Corps for its "science-based approval."

"The US Army Corps of Engineers review process was very thorough and included robust public participation, including consultation with 30 participating tribes. One key permitting input was the Tribal Cultural Resource Survey of the entire route of Line 3 which was managed by the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa.  The survey was the longest and most extensive of its kind for an energy project," the company said in a statement.

Winona LaDuke with Honor the Earth, a group which opposes the new pipeline, said tribes and other groups will surely file lawsuits over the project.

"It"s tragic but it’s not a surprise that the Trump Administration would approve these permits regardless of the water quality impacts from the pipeline, and during a time when a pandemic is sweeping across the north country with workers already here,  flaunting health mandates and threatening to burden our fragile healthcare systems and our population," she said in a statement.

The new Line 3 is already in operation in Wisconsin and Canada, and has been constructed in North Dakota.

RELATED STORY: Enbridge gets approvals for Line 3, more still needed



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