By Matt Doll, Minnesota Environmental Partnership
On Thursday, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to grant a certificate of need to the proposed Enbridge Line 3 replacement oil pipeline, which would deliver Canadian tar sands oil across Minnesota to Superior, Wisconsin. The Commission also chose, on a 3-2 vote, to grant Enbridge its preferred pipeline route, which would bypass tribal reservations but travel through Ojibwe treaty land and some of Minnesota’s most pristine and vulnerable waters.
Despite the objections of tribal representatives and environmental attorneys, the commissioners argued that approving the new pipeline would be the environmentally responsible option. They cited Enbridge’s statements that it would continue to operate the existing Line 3 if the replacement were not constructed and argued that the Commission cannot compel the company to cease its operation. However, opponents have pointed out that other state agencies like the Department of Natural Resources and the Pollution Control Agency have the authority and justification to act regarding the existing pipeline.
MEP has previously detailed why Minnesota has no need, economically or otherwise, for this pipeline.The Commission decided that the benefits of Line 3 outweighed the hazards, despite the pipeline’s massive projected carbon emissions, its danger to hundreds of waters along the new route, and its violation of the cultural rights of the Minnesota Ojibwe tribes, four out of five of which oppose the pipeline entirely.
However, as Governor Mark Dayton pointed out in a statement, this pipeline is not yet a done deal. Enbridge must secure various permits in order to begin construction, and organizations like Honor the Earth and the Sierra Club are already beginning to appeal the PUC’s decision. Organizations and citizens around the state have vowed to continue to oppose this pipeline every step of the way.
We thank all the organizations, advocates, and climate intervenors from around the state who have spoken out and continue to raise their voices on the dangers of Line 3. Now is the time to double down on Minnesota’s commitment to moving to a clean, safe, renewable energy economy. Further reading: