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Final hearings commence as Minnesota pipeline debate rages on

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MPR News reports that Minnesota state regulators will meet again on Tuesday morning to debate the potential installation of a new oil pipeline, a topic which has drawn much ire from state officials and civilians alike.

The proposal for a new pipeline has been submitted by Enbridge Energy, which seeks to replace its Line 3 route with a different pipeline altogether. Enbridge argues that the current route isn’t large enough to meet product demand, while a newly constructed line could shift twice as much crude oil.

Opponents of the proposal argue that a new pipeline could bring unwanted pollution to previously unaffected areas.

Speaking during last week’s hearing, Commissioner Kate Sieben noted: “the line is in horrible condition. So it weighs on me. It's a bad decision either way.”

The new route, if approved, would deviate west of Bemidji to run adjacent to Park Rapids, before correcting its path to meet Enbridge’s terminal in Superior. The route has been chosen to avoid Leech Lake, the site of the current pipeline.

Speaking for the Leech Lake band (the local Native American tribe), Environmental Director Ben Benoit added: "the band has unequivocally stated that Line 3 will not be replaced on the reservation, and there's no negotiating that fact.”

Arguing against the proposed route however are the other neighbouring bands. Band Attorney Seth Bichler said: “it makes no sense from the Fond du Lac band's perspective to solve a problem with a broken pipeline by putting a new one through an area that has never had a pipeline.

While a decision is expected to be reached by the end of today’s meeting, the commissioners do have the ability to extend their deadline until Friday.