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Minnesota Department of Commerce rejects Trudeau-approved Line 3 pipeline

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has concluded “that Minnesota would be better off if Enbridge proposed to cease operations of the existing Line 3, without any new pipeline being built.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau approved the construction of the new Line 3 pipeline in November 2016 (at the same time he approved the 890,000 barrel per day Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline).

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 Associated Press now reports, “The Minnesota Department of Commerce says Enbridge Energy has failed to establish the need for its proposal to replace its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota. Instead, the department says it might be better to just shut down the existing line.”

Minnesota Public Radio adds, “The state Commerce Department dealt a setback Monday [September 11] to a proposed oil pipeline across northern Minnesota, declaring the environmental and socioeconomic risks of letting Enbridge Energy replace its aging Line 3 pipeline across Minnesota outweigh its ‘limited benefits’.”

Construction on the pipeline began this summer in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Wisconsin, while the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will not make its final decision on the pipeline until April 30, 2018.

The PUC is accepting public comments over the next few months.

The Associated Press has previously reported, “[Line 3] 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. …The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe and the National Congress of American Indians are among the native groups that have passed formal resolutions against the project.”

In Canada, the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs along with the Ochapowace, Keeseekoose, George Gordon and Pasqua First Nations in Saskatchewan have all expressed concerns about the pipeline.

The Qu’Appelle Valley Environmental Association (QVEA) in Saskatchewan has stated, “[The Line 3 pipeline] will crisscross fourteen of our watercourses, including our major rivers – tunneling under the South Saskatchewan River, south of Outlook, and under the Qu’Appelle River, near Bethune.”

The Council of Canadians first expressed opposition to the building of the new Line 3 pipeline in March 2014 and stands in solidarity with Canadian, American and Indigenous campaigns to stop the pipeline.