A six-year regulatory review for Enbridge Inc. ended on Thursday when the Minnesota government approved a 340-mile stretch across the state as part of their Line 3 oil export pipe replacement program.
“This is clearly a big day for Line 3 in Minnesota,” said Leo Golden, vice president of Enbridge. “These permits and permits are an important step in the direction of construction for this safety and maintenance-oriented replacement project.”
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) issued water quality certification for river and wetland intersections. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources issued its last eight permits for other aspects of the state’s $ 2.6 billion stake in the project.
The rulings followed an October 16 ruling by MPCA Administrative Judge James LaFave against a ruling by environmentalists and local opposition in favor of a water permit that the agency prepared after an extensive review.
Minnesota permits allow final U.S. federal approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Enbridge has predicted that construction will begin before the end of 2020 if the regulatory process is completed without further delay.
All other sections of the $ 9 billion, 1,031 mile pipe replacement project were completed in Canada, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
Canadian shippers – led by the country’s largest natural gas consumer, thermal oil sands production in Alberta – are expected to achieve an export capacity of 370,000 b / d as the new line could increase operating pressure on 52-year-old Line 3.
Despite Thursday’s approvals, the protest against the political pipeline continues. Minnesota Democratic Governor Tim Walz instructed the State Department of Commerce in August to file a lawsuit in the Minnesota Court of Appeals against the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) approval of Line 3. A court ruling is still pending.