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Opponents Hope to Block Oil Pipeline in MN, Despite Recent Vote

Canadian-based Enbridge energy wants to replace its existing oil pipeline that runs across northern Minnesota. (Adobe Stock)
Canadian-based Enbridge energy wants to replace its existing oil pipeline that runs across northern Minnesota. (Adobe Stock)
February 6, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS -- Opponents of the proposed Line 3 oil pipeline in northern Minnesota say they plan to take legal action in the coming weeks after the project received a round of approval from state regulators.

The pipeline would replace an existing line and would transport twice as much oil, a concern among environmental groups.

And while the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission approved a revised environmental statement, along with two other requests, it wasn't unanimous like the previous vote.

Andy Pearson, Midwest Tar Sands coordinator for the group MN350, says he's hopeful that regulators are giving pipeline opponents' arguments more consideration.

"There's a lot of new information that we've learned about our world, including about our climate," he states. "There's also a lot of new policies, including momentum on electric vehicles that just wasn't there before."

The environmental review was initially approved in March of 2018, but was later rejected by an appeals court.

MN350 says it won't be a party to the legal action, but other groups say a lawsuit will happen.

The company behind the project, Enbridge, says the existing line is too old and needs to be replaced, and that the new one will improve oil transportation safety.

Pearson says project officials haven't done anything yet to convince detractors that this project will benefit the region and won't harm the environment.

"The scope of changes that we would need to make this project a good project would make it not the same project at all," he stresses.

There are still other forms of approval needed for the pipeline.

Enbridge says if it clears all the hurdles, and barring any legal setbacks, it hopes to break ground as soon as this year.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - MN