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Minnesota appeals court affirms approval of divisive Line 3 oil pipeline

A three-judge panel ruled 2-1 on Monday that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) correctly granted Enbridge the certificate of need and route permit.

ST PAUL, Minn. — The Minnesota Court of Appeals has affirmed key approvals by state regulators that gave Enbridge Energy’s $4 billion Line 3 oil pipeline replacement project the green light to proceed. 

A three-judge panel ruled 2-1 on Monday that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) correctly granted Enbridge the certificate of need and route permit that the Canadian-based company needs for the Minnesota segment of the pipeline. 

Enbridge wants to replace the 1960s-era pipeline because it has been deteriorating and can run at only half capacity. More than 1,000 tribal and environmental activists gathered at construction sites near the headwaters of the Mississippi River last week to try to block the project. There were a number of arrests. 

The PUC approved the Line 3 project in 2018, and again the following year after their original decision was nullified by a court ruling. By then work was well underway on the segments in Wisconsin and Canada.

Work on the Minnesota portion began in December of 2020 after all the state and federal permits had been approved. Work paused for the spring thaw and now labor contracts are in place to shift back into high gear, with a combined work force of more than 5,000.

Enbridge has asserted a new and improved pipeline would actually reduce the odds of a leak or spill. The company also agreed to remove the section of the old pipeline that currently crosses the Leech Lake Community lands between Bemidji and Grand Rapids.