Enbridge Line 3 pipeline approval expected to ease Canadian oil price woes


Enbridge has 60 days under the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approval to negotiate a settlement with the Fond Du Lac Band to determine routing on a short piece of the pipeline that crosses its land, but it will be able to go around if no agreement can be reached.

"We don't have the authority today to decide what is right; we have the authority to decide what the law and the record tell us", said PUC Vice Chair Dan Lipschultz.

"You have just declared war on the Ojibwe!" "They have gotten their Standing Rock".

Pipeline bottlenecks have steepened a price discount for Western Canadian heavy crude this year while refiners in Minnesota and surrounding states say Line 3 is necessary to increase crude supplies.

Enbridge shares gained during Thursday's meeting as members of the commission spoke favorably about the project, citing the need to replace the current Line 3, which was originally installed in the 1960s. The company wants to pull the old network out and replace it with a new line capable of carrying more Canadian oil through the region.

After commissioners agreed the pipeline upgrade was needed, the commission voted 3-2 in favour of a slightly modified version of Enbridge's preferred route.

In a statement released by the Fond du Lac Band Thursday, the band said they would push for some areas to be avoided by the route. Another commissioner, Katie Sieben, said it was "so tough because there is no good outcome". "We're not letting the pipeline get any further". "We will continue to fight to ensure that this pipeline is never built".

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The rebuilt Line 3 will follow the existing pipeline path partway through Minnesota, before veering south to bypass Leech Lake reserve and avoid a need to shut down the pipeline for up to one year during construction.

Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth, said the response would mirror Standing Rock, a mass protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota that lasted months. The group is inviting water protectors to come to Minnesota.

Margaret Breen of Youth Climate Intervenors - a group of young activists who have been working to oppose the pipeline - says that her organization remains motivated to stop the project, too. Cathy Collentine of the Sierra Club's Beyond Dirty Fuels Campaign says that the Sierra Club is exploring options to halt the pipeline's progress, such as petitioning for a reconsideration of the decision.

The Minnesota Petroleum Council stated Thursday that the PUC decision was good news for state consumers. It has spent $3.6 billion to date on the overall project.

The band also plans to appeal the PUC's decision.

Opponents held a news conference Friday on the approved route where the pipeline would cross the Minnesota-Wisconsin border on its way to Superior, within sight of equipment they said Enbridge has already stockpiled in preparation for construction in Minnesota.