The Enbridge Energy company wants to replace the aging Line 3 with a new oil pipeline on a new route across northern Minnesota to Superior, WI.
State regulators have started a series of 18 public hearings around Minnesota on whether or not to allow Enbridge Energy to construct a new oil pipeline to replace the Line 3 pipeline.
The administrative law judge, Ann C. O’Reilly, who is holding the hearings, will consider all public comments as part of a report she compiles. O’Reilly is conducting the hearings on behalf of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
According to the Minnesota Commerce Department, Enbridge states that the purpose of the project is to address pipeline integrity and safety concerns related to the existing Line 3 and to restore the throughput of the line to its original operating capacity of 760,000 barrels per day (bpd).
“The multibillion-dollar Line 3 replacement program is the largest project in Enbridge history. The new Line 3 will comprise the newest and most advanced pipeline technology—and provide much needed incremental capacity to support Canadian crude oil production growth, and U.S. and Canadian refinery demand,” according to Enbridge’s website.
Nearly 3,400 acres of wild rice, a staple crop of the Ojibwe tribe in Minnesota, would be within ten miles downstream of Enbridge’s proposed route, according to a report by the Minnesota Department of Commerce.
The corridor cuts across the reservations of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. The Leech Lake band made it clear to Enbridge several years ago that it would not host a new pipeline, according to PUC filings.
Students from different universities in Wisconsin traveled to the Twin Cities, MN to attend and speak at one of the public hearings. Members from the student organization 350 Stevens Point, were also in attendance.
Zach Jones, vice president of 350 Stevens Point, said, “Line 3 is a line in Enbrigde’s network that goes from the tar sands in Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin. Enbridge already has a terrible track record regarding oil spills. The lakes in Minnesota provide revenue through tourism and water activities and the pipeline stands to endanger the water quality. Additionally, the pipeline impacts wild rice lakes which most likely will be detrimental to the Native American population in the surrounding areas of the pipeline. ”
Canadian oil shippers and Midwest refineries say they need the added capacity and improved reliability the replacement would provide. Business and labor groups want the construction jobs Line 3 would create.
The company, which proposed the new pipeline a few years ago, is in the home stretch of the regulatory process, and opposition from indigenous tribes and environmental groups is intensifying. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is set to decide Line 3’s fate in April 2018.