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Minneapolis St. Paul News, Weather, Traffic, Sports | Minneapolis, Minnesota | kare11.com

Court reverses regulators' decision on pipeline's impact

The appeals court ruled the environmental impact statement is inadequate because it doesn't address the possibility of an oil spill into the Lake Superior watershed.
Credit: KARE
The Minnesota Department of Commerce is soliciting input on a draft environmental review of Enbridge Energy's proposed replacement for its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota.

ST PAUL, Minn. — An appeals court has reversed a decision by Minnesota utility regulators who approved the environmental impact statement for Enbridge Energy's Line 3 pipeline.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled Monday the environmental impact statement (EIS) is inadequate because it doesn't address the possibility of an oil spill into the Lake Superior watershed.

Although the appeals court rejected most of the opponents' "assertions of error" in the EIS, they determined that the missing element of addressing the Lake Superior watershed was enough to rule it inadequate.

The state Public Utilities Commission last year approved the review done by the Minnesota Department of Commerce. Several environmental groups and American Indian tribes appealed the commission's approval.

Enbridge's $2.6 billion project calls for the construction of a new oil pipeline to replace the aging Line 3. The pipeline would carry Canadian oil across northern Minnesota to Superior, Wisconsin.

House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) issued a statement responding to the decision on Monday.

"It's encouraging that the court rejected nearly all of the challenges brought by environmental groups who oppose this pipeline and the thousands of jobs that come with it," Daudt said. "Replacing aging infrastructure is the right thing to do for Minnesota; it's good our economy, it will grow jobs, and it will enhance environmental protection. This ruling should not change that, and should not stop this important project." 

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has 60 days to "prepare an adequate EIS" and fix the issue the court identified.