MINNEAPOLIS — Following years of legal battles and protests, Enbridge says the Line 3 pipeline will be operational on Friday.
The pipeline starts its snaking journey in Alberta, Canada and runs through North Dakota and Minnesota before connecting with an Enbridge terminal in Superior, Wisconsin.
The project was completed despite six years of legal battles and stiff opposition from local tribes, environmentalists and others, saying that the 337-mile pipeline violated treaty rights, would worsen climate change and would risk spills.
Some of the area crossed by the pipeline is land where Minnesota tribes have long-standing rights to fish, hunt and grow wild rice.
Enbridge maintains that replacing the aging pipeline, which was built in the 1960s, is the safest option for maintaining the oil supply to the Midwest and creates thousands of jobs.
"From day one, this project has been about modernizing our system and improving safety and reliability for the benefit of communities, the environment and our customers," said Al Monaco, Enbridge President and Chief Executive Officer in a statement.
"We need to respect Indigenous sovereignty, and we need to do that now," said Tara Houska, an attorney and environmental and Indigenous rights advocate from the Duluth area. "That wild rice is so sacred to our people. It's at the heart of who we are, it is the center point of our culture, and our identity as a people."
Representative Ilhan Omar wrote a letter to President Joe Biden in September, asking him to withdraw the permits for the pipeline like he had done for the Keystone XL pipeline earlier this year.
In August, the Minnesota Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by opponents of Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 oil pipeline, letting stand a key decision by independent regulators to allow construction to proceed.
This ruling effectively affirming a decision in June by the Minnesota Court of Appeals, when a three-judge panel ruled 2-1 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.
The PUC first 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.