Commerce Department Tells Company Its Pipeline is Unnecessary

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ST. PAUL, Minn. – Enbridge Energy’s plan to replace its Line 3 crude oil pipeline in northern Minnesota is in jeopardy after the state revealed it is of the opinion that everyone would be better off if the existing pipeline was shut down.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce said refineries in Minnesota and the rest of the Midwest have sufficient supplies of crude oil, and argued that they have little ability to process yet more, reports the Pioneer Press.

Enbridge’s proposal would see it replace the existing Line 3 with a new line. The new one would follow mostly the same route for the first part, and then head in a more southerly direction as it continues across Minnesota, reports the Pioneer Press. In total the project would cost $7.5 billion to complete.

A final decision will not be made until April, when the Public Utilities Commission will decide whether or not to approve the line at all, and if it is approved what route it will take, reports the Pioneer Press. The route has been the subject of significant environmental controversy, as environmental activists object to Enbridge’s preferred route since it runs through the Mississippi River headwaters region, as well as areas where Ojibwe bands harvest wild rice. There is also a perception among opponents of the pipeline that the tar sands oil it will transport is significantly worse for the environment than lighter grades of crude oil.

The Public Utilities Commission is technically independent of the governor’s office, but all five of its current members were appointed by Gov. Mark Dayton.

Enbridge believes the new pipeline is a necessity. They claim that the existing pipeline’s condition has been cut to just half of its original capacity, which at its peak was 766,000 barrels of oil daily, reports the Pioneer Press. The new pipeline would allow for a capacity of 844,000 barrels, and would not have the increasingly expensive maintenance costs associated with the new pipeline.

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