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Public comment period opens on Line 3 pipeline project

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has released the draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Enbridge Line 3 pipeline project. A public comment period on the project has now opened, and will last until 10 July 2017.

Enbridge Energy is proposing to construct a new oil pipeline in Minnesota to replace its existing Line 3 pipeline. At $7.5 billion (€6.8 billion), the project is the largest in Enbridge’s history, and hopes to fully replace 1,031 miles (1,660 kilometres) of Line 3 with new pipeline and other facilities on both sides of the US-Canadian border.

Part of Enbridge’s Mainline crude oil infrastructure, the pipeline which runs from Alberta, Canada to the Enbridge terminal in Superior, Wisconsin, was first constructed in the 1960s. Currently operating at only 50% capacity, it’s hoped that the pipeline project will improve the performance to 760,000 barrels per day.

Enbridge have proposed five potential routes for the pipeline through Minnesota, with the company preferring the new pipeline to follow Line 3’s existing route through the state. The environmental impact statement doesn’t offer recommendation on a preferred route, but instead provides data to allow regulators to make a decision on whether to award the energy company a certificate of need for the project, and the route the pipeline should take.

Environmental and tribal groups oppose the pipeline project due to the risk of oil spills and other environmental disruption. The Department of Commerce report meanwhile, seems to indicate that all of the proposed routes would have some environmental impacts.

Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission will now decide whether to award Enbridge a certificate of need. Comment on the environmental impact statement can be submitted by post, email or fax, or at one of 22 scheduled public meetings.