Pipeline Proposal takes Giant Step Forward in MN

Pipeline Proposal takes Giant Step Forward in MN Click to Enlarge

ST. PAUL, Minn. - With high stakes and heated comments reminiscent of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation protest over the Dakota Access Pipeline, supporters and critics of the new Enbridge pipeline through Northern Minnesota are ready to pounce on the final Environmental Impact Statement.

It comes out Thursday, after a one-week delay ordered by the governor.

Andy Pearson, project director for environmental group Minnesota350, says the state should be moving away from fossil fuels, not toward them.

"The oil that this pipeline is carrying comes from the tar sands in Northern Alberta," he points out. "The social cost of climate change alone caused by this project would be about $287 billion, and that's only over a 30-year time span."

Enbridge says the pipeline would replace a worn-out one, and bring more jobs and tax dollars to Minnesota. The replacement line has already won approval in North Dakota, Wisconsin and Alberta.

Lorraine Little, Midwest director for community engagement at Enbridge, says Minnesota's permitting process is rigorous.

"Minnesota does have a very intense process, you know, so we are actively engaging with all of the stakeholders who are out and along our route," she states.

The state Commerce Department held 22 public hearings over the summer and will hold 18 more around the state this fall. After that, an administrative law judge will decide whether to grant the company's requested "certificate of need."

Enbridge says construction could start mid-2018. But Pearson says opposition from consumer and environmental groups will be fierce.

"Enbridge will tell you it's a 'done deal,' because it's in their interest to make you think that you don't have a voice," Pearson states. "But it's very far from being a 'done deal' in Minnesota."

Line 3 begins in Alberta and ends at the Enbridge terminal in Superior, Wis. The replacement pipeline would take a more southerly route than the existing one, and carry nearly twice as many barrels of oil.

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