MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Minnesota regulators on Thursday granted a stack of important permits and approvals for the planned replacement of Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 Line 3 in northern Minnesota, putting the $ 2.6 billion project delayed on the road for construction to start shortly.
Approvals from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Department of Natural Resources clear the way for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue the remaining federal permits, which is expected to happen fairly quickly. The MPCA could then approve a final stormwater construction permit to protect surface water from pollutant runoff.
“The MPCA has used solid science and in-depth analysis to ensure the necessary safeguards are in place to protect Minnesota waters,” Commissioner Laura Bishop said in a statement, adding that the certification “requires Enbridge to comply with the extended Minnesota water quality standards instead of standards. “
Environmental and tribal groups have been fighting the project for years. They argue that this threatens the crystal-clear waters where Native Americans harvest wild rice and that the oil from the Canadian tar sands it carries would worsen climate change.
“The science is clear Line 3 would threaten Minnesota’s drinking water and slow our state’s climate progress at a time when we can least afford it,” said Margaret Levin, Sierra Club Chapter Director. in Minnesota, in a statement raising the possibility of further legal challenge.
But Enbridge, based in Calgary, Alta., Welcomed the approvals, saying in a statement that it recognizes the license conditions required by the two state agencies “are essential to protect Minnesota’s sensitive waterways. and wild rice waters ”.
Line 3 – which runs from Alberta through North Dakota and Minnesota to the Enbridge terminal in Superior, Wisconsin – was built in the 1960s, but is deteriorating and can only operate about half of its original capacity. Enbridge says its replacement will allow it to transport oil more safely while creating 4,200 construction jobs and generating millions of dollars in local spending and tax revenue. The updated sections in Canada, North Dakota, and Wisconsin are already working. But the Minnesota segment has been pushing its way through regulatory agencies and courts for the past six years.
An appeal from the Minnesota Department of Commerce is still pending, arguing that Enbridge failed to make a legally adequate long-term demand forecast. The Independent Utilities Commission, which oversees the project, has repeatedly rejected this argument. Gov. Tim Walz’s administration has been criticized by Line 3 supporters for continuing the challenge; now he faces criticism from opponents for Thursday’s approvals.
“It is now clear that Governor Walz’s wish for Line 3 to have ‘a social license’ was all talk and no action. This is a deeply unpopular pipeline that is a disaster for our climate, and it will be fought every step of the way, ”said Andy Pearson, Midwestern Oil Sands Coordinator for the MN350 climate change group.
The regional council of the International Union of Workers of North America, one of the unions whose members would build the project, said in a statement that it expects construction to begin next month. Enbridge spokeswoman Juli Kellner did not confirm the date, but said the company plans to begin construction as soon as it has final clearance and permits in hand. Construction would then take six to nine months.