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Enbridge Scores Major Pipeline Victory

The Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear an appeal filed by opponents of the Line 3 oil pipeline project, effectively allowing construction of the replacement program and dealing a blow to opponents of Enbridge’s pipeline. 

By declining to hear the appeal, the Minnesota Supreme Court basically affirmed the decision of the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which had affirmed in June the approvals of the Line 3 project issued by Minnesota state regulators.  

Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement project will replace the existing 34-inch pipe with new 36-inch pipe for 13 miles in North Dakota, 337 miles in Minnesota, and 14 miles in Wisconsin. The average annual capacity of Line 3 after replacement is planned to be 760,000 barrels per day (bpd), which would be a capacity increase of 370,000 bpd compared to the capacity of the original Line 3.  

The Line 3 replacement is already in service in Canada, but it is not yet operational in the United States. Construction of the new Line 3 in Minnesota started in December 2020. The project is already 80 percent completed in Minnesota, Enbridge says. 

But the completion of the pipeline still faces opposition from environmentalists and first nation groups, which continue to sue Enbridge and the state of Minnesota, asking for injunctions to protect lands, water, and crops along the pipeline route. 

Earlier this month, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe tribe sued Minnesota, claiming that the state is violating the rights of wild rice, which “possesses inherent rights to exist, flourish, regenerate, and evolve, as well as inherent rights to restoration, recovery, and preservation.” 

Also earlier this month, Enbridge said in a filing with the Canada Energy Regulator that Line 3 in the United States “could be completed within the next 30 to 60 days which will allow the Line 3 replacement pipeline to commence service as early as September 15, 2021.”   

Enbridge welcomed Tuesday’s decision of the Minnesota Supreme Court, while opponents said that interests of corporations continue to prevail over nature and the rights of indigenous people.  

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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