Enbridge Line 3 Final Environmental Impact Statement Review Process Restarts
Posted on: October 8, 2019
An interactive map of the proposed Enbridge Line 3 (red) and the existing Line 3 (black) is accessible from the Honor the Earth website: http://www.honorearth.org/stop_line_3

The following Tribal and environmental groups have actively opposed the Enbridge Line 3 project, which transports oil products from the Hardisty, Alberta tar sands, to refineries in Superior, Wisconsin.

Their continuous legal action has most recently pushed the development of line five into 2020, at least. Several groups submmited appeals that were ruled on by the Minnesota Court of Appeals (Court of Appeals) on June 3, 2019. One appeal led to reversal of a decision made by the the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) in May that determined the Final Environmental Impacts Statement (FEIS) developed by the Minnesota Department of Commerce (DOC) was adequate.

Enbridge has powered through previous delays

The Final Environmental Impacts Statement (FEIS) for the Enbridge Line 3 project was first submitted to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on August 17, 2017. After the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) determined that the FEIS was inadequate, the statement was revised and resubmitted on December 14, 2017. The MPUC determined that the revised FEIS was adequate on May 1, 2018. Petitions to reconsider this determination from opposing Tribal and environmental groups was denied on July 3, 2018. The MPUC proceeded to grant Enbridge’s Line 3 project with both a Route Permit and a Certificate of Need.

Minnesota will be restarting the pipeline review process after a court ruled, on June 3, 2019, in favour of one of three certiorari appeals against the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s (MPUC) determination of FEIS adequacy. Honor the Earth, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, White Earth Band of Ojibwe, Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, and Friends of the Headwaters attempted to provide sufficient evidence that the FEIS did not adequately identify alternatives to the project including a “no action” alternative or analyze environmental impacts. They also claimed that there were signs that the MPUC did not take a “hard look” at the adequacy question.

June 3, 2019: Court of Appeals Consolidated Filing of Ceritorari Appeals

Pipeline opposition celebrates incomplete success

Although the court ruled against two of the certiorari appeals (signs that MPUC did not take a “hard look” at the adequacy question and identifying alternatives), it ruled in favour of the appeal that the FEIS did not adequately analyze environmental impacts. Specifically, the court found that the FEIS did not properly take into account the impact that a spill would have in the Lake Superior Watershed. This court decision reversed the adequacy determination made by the MPUC on May 1, 2018, and it restarts the review process. After review, there will be another opportunity for public comment and then the Certification of Need and Route Permit will have to be re-issued in order for construction to begin.

In light of the June 3rd Court of Appeals decision, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) issued a news release on September 27, 2019 stating that they could not provide Enbridge with a 401 Certification. They also stated that the MPCA must receive further information about “oil spill response monitoring, a pre- and post- construction monitoring plan for aquatic resources, and a revised proposal for mitigating more than 400 acres of forested wetlands that will be impacted during construction.” Enbridge can re-apply for 401 Certification.


Minnesota Department of Commerce – Line 3 Pipeline Replacement

West Central Tribune – Hundreds of Line 3 Opponents Rally in Duluth

The Chronicle Herald – Minnesota Regulator Orders Revised Environmental Impact Statement for Enbridge Line 3

Financial Post – Pipeline victory for Enbridge as Minnesota court refuses to hear Line 3 challenges

Enbridge – Understanding Minnesota’s Regulatory Process for Pipeline Projects

Previous Infosuperior Articles:

Dec 14, 2018 – Updates: Enbridge Lines 3 and 5

Dec 14, 2016 – Right Through Here

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