Comment period kicks off on Enbridge Line 3 pipeline review

Published 7:59 am Tuesday, May 16, 2017

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Department of Commerce kicked off a comment period Monday that will include 22 public meetings as it released a draft environmental review of Enbridge Energy’s proposed replacement for its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota.

The draft environmental impact statement, which numbers 1,894 pages not counting appendices, does not recommend Enbridge’s preferred route or four alternative routes that were also studied. It’s meant instead to provide data for regulators to use in deciding whether to approve a certificate of need for the project and which route it should take.

Environmental and tribal groups oppose the project because of the risks of oil spills in sensitive areas of northern Minnesota, including the Mississippi River headwaters region and lakes where Ojibwe bands harvest wild rice. They also oppose the project because it would carry Canadian tar sands crude, which they say contributes more to climate change than other oil.

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The report says it’s not possible to determine which route option is best from an environmental justice perspective because each would have “a disproportionate and adverse effect” on tribal resources and members. The review also says differences are not very pronounced for the potential effects on surface water quality because the routes all pass through areas that contain some of the highest quality water resources in the state. And it says the impacts on fish and wildlife habitats vary only slightly.