Northern MN Oil Pipeline May Face Further Delays

Canadian based energy company Enbridge’s plans for a an oil pipeline through northern Minnesota hit a new snag Monday as two environmental groups filed a motion for state regulators to reexamine the proposed plans, reports Minnesota Public Radio.

The motion was filed with the Public Utilities Commission by the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy and Friends of the Headwaters. In it, the two environmentalist groups argue that Enbridge has been deceptive about plans to replace an existing 1,031 mile long pipeline that reaches from Alberta across the northern part of Minnesota.

Enbridge has been touting the new construction as a replacement of its Line 3, a 50 year old pipeline which they claim needs to be replaced for safety. However, a recently proposed settlement between Enbridge and the U.S. Justice Department over a 2010 oil spill in Michigan would allow Enbridge to continue using the existing Line 3 as well as constructing the new pipeline.

“They’re telling the state one thing, that they’ll permanently deactivate the existing pipeline — leave it in the ground — and they’re telling the federal government an entirely different thing,” Kevin Lee, a staff attorney with the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy told MPR.

In light of the proposed settlement, the two advocacy groups are asking the state to reevaluate the environmental impact of the project. If the request is granted and regulators call for a new scoping project it would likely be impossible to meet Enbridge’s goal of a one-year approval process. The groups also allege that the goal of the project has changed since Enbridge scrapped its Sandpiper pipeline plans.

“We’re thankful for the agencies’ effort to prepare the draft scoping document for the Line 3 Replacement Project’s Environmental Impact Statement,” Enbridge spokeswoman Lorraine Little told MPR, “We look forward to the Environmental Impact Statement work getting underway for this important project.”

Enbridge first filed their application for the project 17 months ago, in April of 2015.

Anders Koskinen