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Minnesota to decide on Trudeau-backed Line 3 tar sands pipeline in April 2018

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline in November 2016, but a review process is still underway in Minnesota.

The building of Line 3 would mean 1,600 kilometres of new pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta to Superior Wisconsin, which is situated on the western tip of Lake Superior. The original 390,000 barrel per day Line 3 pipeline was built in 1968 and would be decommissioned and left underground. The new larger pipeline would carry 760,000 barrel per day and would have the capacity to carry diluted bitumen for 50-60 years. Enbridge admits the pipeline would mean 19 to 26 megatonnes of upstream greenhouse gas emissions each year.

The Council of Canadians first expressed opposition to the building of the new Line 3 pipeline in a March 2014 blog. The Ochapowace, Keeseekoose, George Gordon and Pasqua First Nations in Saskatchewan have also expressed concerns about the Line 3 pipeline, as has the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs. The heavy oil pipeline would pass nearby Regina and Brandon, communities where the Council of Canadians has chapters.

On August 4, Global News reported, “Enbridge says construction is now underway on the Line 3 replacement pipeline in Alberta and Saskatchewan. Suzanne Wilton, a spokesperson for Enbridge, said construction ‘kicked off in earnest’ at Hardisty, Alta., this week.”

The CBC has reported, “Line 3 already has presidential approval, but the replacement project must undergo separate permitting processes in the U.S. [including in Minnesota where there is significant opposition] before construction can begin.”

Now the Associated Press reports, “Minnesota regulators on Thursday [August 17] released the final environmental review of Enbridge Energy’s proposal to replace its aging Line 3 oil pipeline, which carries Canadian tar sands crude across northern Minnesota to Wisconsin. The review will inform the state Public Utilities Commission as it decides whether the project is needed and what route it should take. The commission is scheduled to decide by Dec. 11 whether the final review meets the legal requirements, and to decide on April 30 whether to give its ultimate approval to the pipeline and its route. Administrative law judges will hold hearings and take more public testimony along the way.”

That article adds, “Enbridge’s preferred route has drawn opposition because it would cut through the Mississippi River headwaters region and the pristine lake country of northern Minnesota, where Ojibwe bands harvest wild rice and hold treaty rights. Native American groups including Honor the Earth, which is led by Winona LaDuke, have threatened mass protests that would echo the fight over the Dakota Access pipeline near the Standing Rock Reservation in the Dakotas. The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and the National Congress of American Indians are among the native groups that have passed formal resolutions against the project.”

Anticipating approval in April 2018, Enbridge expects to have the pipeline in service by the second half of 2019.

The Council of Canadians stands in solidarity with Canadian, American and Indigenous campaigns to stop Line 3.