Enbridge continues to pursue development of two major pipeline replacements while environmental groups continue to fight against them.
Line 3 could begin construction by the end of 2019
Originally constructed in 1968, Enbridge began plans to replace and revamp their Line 3 pipeline in 2014. Line 3 extends from the tar sands of Hardisty, Alberta, to Superior, Wisconsin where the crude oil is processed. Enbridge is a Canadian company and thus it’s contributions to the Canadian economy were heavily favoured in decisions by Canadian officials to OK the replacement project on the Canadian side of the line.
On the U.S. side however, the pipeline has met with significant opposition by environment groups, intervening Anishinaabe groups (White Earth, Red Lake, Mille Lacs and Leech Lake) and the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Fond Du Lac was included as an intervening party, however, they reached a settlement with Enbridge in August which prevents Fond Du Lac from participating in opposition to the pipeline.
Recent Opposition Attempts
Most recently, opponents to the Line 3 pipeline construction in Minnesota motioned for the Minnesota Public Utilities Comssion (PUC) to reconsider their decision in June to grant Enbridge with a Certificate of Need, but the PUC rejected the motion. This means that the Line 3 replacement is one step closer to construction, although Enbridge must still obtain multiple permits and federal approval. Enbridge has stated that they hope to be at the construction phase in Minnesota by the end of the first quarter of 2019.
The Line 3 replacement project has undergone an environmental impact study conducted by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, which can be viewed here: Final Environmental Impact Statement Line 3 Project. The Minnesota Department of Commerce has stated that they do not believe that Line 3 is necessary to meet petroleum needs in Minnesota and that Enbridge does not have sufficient funds to handle remediation in the event of multiple spills.
Governor Rick Snyder pushes for Replacing Line 5
Meanwhile, the future of another Enbridge pipeline is up in the air. Current Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder revealed that a deal had been outlined with Enbridge to replace Line 5, which lies on the bottom of the Straits of Mackinac. After recent news about the dangerous state of the pipeline that is already 15 years past its best-before date and an accidental impact with a lowered anchor, public support for decomissioning line 5 boomed.
Despite evidence that Line 5 is not essential to meet petroleum needs in Michigan, Rick Snyder chose to work with Enbridge to maintain the future of the Line 5 supply. The deal includes the continued use of the old pipeline while a tunnel is constructed below the Straits of Mackinac to house a new pipeline, a project that would take 7 to 10 years.
Although Enbridge and Snyder are confident about this potential project, Snyder will be leaving his position Dec. 31 and his replacement Gretchen Whitmer has advocated to decommission Line 5 completely.
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