The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) and Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) granted the final two remaining permits needed for Enbridge Energy to build its long-planned Line 3 replacement oil pipeline.
The Corps’ November 23 approval came a little over a week after the Minnesota Public Utility Commission (MPUC) and the state’s Department of Natural Resources approved permits for the $2.6 billion, 340 mile pipeline. Line 3 will replace Enbridge’s aging existing line which carries heavy Canadian oil across northern Minnesota to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wisconsin.
Enbridge reduced the oil flow through the existing Line 3 to 50 percent of its capacity in order to avoid leaks. The Line 3 replacement has been undergoing various regulatory reviews for six years.
Following the Army Corp’s action, MPCA granted Enbridge a storm water construction permit to protect surface waters from runoff during the pipeline’s construction on November 30. This was the final permit the company needed to begin construction .
Approval ‘Based on Sound Science’
Enbridge’s proposed line met or exceeded all environmental protection standards required by the Corps, Col. Karl Jansen, commander of the St. Paul District, said in a statement issued by the agency.
“[Line 3] is compliant with all federal laws and regulations” said Jansen. “Our decision follows an exhaustive review of the application and the potential impacts associated with the construction of the pipeline within federally protected waters.
Our staff worked deliberately and extensively with our federal and state partners, federally recognized Tribes, environmental organizations, and the applicant,” Jansen said. “I believe our decision is based on sound science and strikes the balance between protecting natural resources and allowing reasonable development.”
‘Most Extensive Review in Minnesota History’
The state followed the law and the science in granting approval of the Line 3 replacement, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (DFL), told reporters.
“This project has had the most extensive review in Minnesota history,” Walz said.
Enbridge has proven to regulators’ satisfactions that the pipeline is safe and now the company can begin construction, said Juli Kellner, a communications specialist with Enbridge, in a statement the company released after receiving its final permits.
“Construction can now begin,” said Kellner. “This is the culmination of six years of evidence and science-based review of the project.
“Line 3 is poised to provide significant economic benefits for counties, small businesses, Native American communities, and union members – bringing 4,200 family-sustaining, mostly local construction jobs, millions of dollars in local spending and additional tax revenues at a time when Northern Minnesota needs it most,” Kellner’s statement said.
H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D.(firstname.lastname@example.org)is the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.