PUC approves Line 3 certificate of need and Enbridge’s preferred route through pristine waters

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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:

Honor the Earth and Sierra Club North Star Chapter Joint Statement
MN350 Statement
Environmental Law and Policy Center Statement

One Response to “PUC approves Line 3 certificate of need and Enbridge’s preferred route through pristine waters”

  1. Stephen Wiley

    Dayton’s PUC members have ties to extractive industries and their allies, despite the governor’s protestations that he cares about the environment. They are qualified, though none of their thumbnail bios (google MN PUC) shows any strong pro-environment experience or advocacy. I hope they’re able to think outside the box, though their 3-2 vote for Enbridge’s prefered route for line 3 suggests not. Business as usual is NOT what our state or the nation need at this time; rather, we need solar, hydro, and other renewables.

    And I am disappointed and angry that our two Senators attached riders to the National Defense Authorization Act, now headed for committee markup, that basically do away with our state’s pro-environment heritage. In NE MN, the DFL has been mostly about jobs and unions and not so much the environment. Now that iron is petering out, our state’s substantial copper and nickel deposits are looking good to multinational extractors, and they’re doing what they do. But the political vision and will to do what’s best for all concerned, including our natural environment, is nowhere to be found among appointed or elected officials. Sen. Smith has even accepted a donation from Polymet to her campaign for election in November, and her husband used to work for the Swiss multinational that owns Polymet. And Rick Nolan is no doubt educating Lori Swanson on Range politics.

    I am deeply disappointed in the DFL and will vote for them only because of the disastrous Republican shark frenzy.

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