The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved a controversial rebuild of Line 3 of the Enbridge Energy oil pipeline Thursday, as environmental activists and Native American groups vowed to keep fighting, The Associated Press reported.
In a statement on late Thursday, Enbridge Inc., based in Calgary, Alberta, called that a "good outcome for Minnesota". Cathy Collentine of the Sierra Club's Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign says that the Sierra Club is exploring options to halt the pipeline's progress, such as petitioning for a reconsideration of the decision. He said the company plans to continue working with communities along the route to try to show them that the line will be a benefit, not a burden.
Enbridge was up 3.7% on the day as the stock got a boost on the news.
"They have gotten their Standing Rock", LaDuke said, referring to protests that drew thousands of people to neighbouring North Dakota to rally against the Dakota Access pipeline. "It feels like a gun to our head that compels us to approve a new line ... but the gun is real and it's loaded". Winona LaDuke, founder of Honor the Earth, said they'll use every regulatory means possible, and she threatened mass protests. Refiners in Minnesota and surrounding states say Line 3 is necessary to increase crude supplies. After deliberation the commission voted 3-2 to follow Enbridge's proposed path, making only slight changes to avoid Big Sandy Lake.
The approved route would mostly avoid two American Indian reservations whose tribes strongly oppose the project, with a short crossing at one stretch of the Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa's land to connect to existing pipeline. But it allows Enbridge to now apply for 29 other permits it needs to build the pipeline, which would run from Superior, Wisconsin, to Alberta, Canada.
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What's unknown is where the route will go after that. The pipeline replacement is necessary for Enbridge as it now can transport only half of its capacity.
Governor Mark Dayton is urging everyone to "express themselves peacefully", stressing the Public Utilities Commission decision is *not* the final approval of the pipeline.
Opponents held a news conference Friday on the approved route where the pipeline would cross the Minnesota-Wisconsin border on its way to Superior, within sight of equipment they said Enbridge has already stockpiled in preparation for construction in Minnesota. Construction is now underway on a short segment of the pipeline crossing northeastern North Dakota and on a longer section running from Alberta to the USA border, and Enbridge plans to continue that work.
Construction of the pipeline is crucial to ensure access to the U.S. Midwest, which imported 2.3 million barrels per day of Canadian crude in 2017, said Nancy Berard-Brown, manager of oil markets and transportation for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.