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The Line 3 oil pipeline project scored a victory at a Minnesota court, which rejected a challenge to Enbridge's water permit for the pipeline.
"We conclude that the MPCA's [Minnesota Pollution Control Agency] section 401 certification is not affected by legal error and is supported by substantial evidence in the record," the three-judge panel on the appellate state court said in its ruling, as quoted by the Star Tribune.
The legal challenge, submitted by two Native American groups and three environmental organizations, claimed that the agency had made legal errors in its permit for the Enbridge pipeline.
The decision by the appeals court confirms that "wetlands and waterbodies are being appropriately protected during construction," an Enbridge spokesman told Bloomberg.
This makes for a second favorable court ruling on Line 3, after earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Minnesota allowed construction on the pipeline to continue by refusing to hear an appeal that was filed by the opponents of the pipeline replacement project. With its decline to hear the appeal, the 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.
Protests against pipelines in the United States have become a common occurrence. But what makes the case particularly interesting is that the Line 3 project is not about a new pipeline. The project involves the replacement of an old piece of infrastructure laid in the 1960s. Normally, replacements of oil equipment aim to improve its safety, but in this case, the replacement will also boost the capacity of the pipeline to 760,000 bpd—up from 370,000 bpd.
"It's disappointing that the court will not hold MPCA accountable for their failure to protect our clean water," a Sierra Club spokeswoman told Bloomberg.
"We are disappointed that the Minnesota Court of Appeals has deferred to the MPCA's bad decision in granting the 401 permit to Enbridge," said an attorney for another of the plaintiffs, Friends of the Headwaters, in a statement quoted by the Star Tribune.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com