DULUTH – Enbridge once envisioned it would be shipping oil across Minnesota on a new Line 3 by now.
But on Thursday, supporters and opponents of the $2.6 billion pipeline again gathered in a room to tell the state why that should or shouldn’t happen, in the 66th public meeting for the project.
“For the people who have come to all these meetings for years and years, this has been a long process,” said Dan Olson, business manager for the Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 1091 in Duluth, one of four unions that have signed project labor agreements to build Line 3. “There’s no reason to delay this any further.”
Thursday’s hearing was prompted by court-ordered additions to the project’s environmental review that took a closer look at oil spill risks in the Lake Superior watershed. While the review showed the lake itself would likely be spared from a major spill, environmental and indigenous activists saw more evidence the pipeline would be unsafe and unnecessary.
“We know there’s no need for this oil … we know fossil fuel infrastructure must be scaled out effective immediately to avoid climate catastrophes,” said University of Minnesota research scientist Christine Dolph. “Sound science would support a denial of this project.”
Supporters, who in orange and blue outnumbered project opponents during the afternoon hearing at Duluth’s Radisson hotel, said the more than 50-year-old Line 3 needs to be replaced because the region depends on the energy it provides.
“Thank you for those petroleum-powered vehicles who cleared our streets — it didn’t happen as fast as many of us would like, but alternative-fuel vehicles to clear our snow here in the Northland simply do not exist today,” said Paul Meneghini of Duluth, an Enbridge employee. “Someday maybe, today not possible.”
At a news conference before the hearing, Duluth Indigenous Commission Chairwoman Babette Sandman said the project is a threat to water and future generations.
“We literally cannot live without [water]. But she can live without us,” she said.
The Line 3 replacement pipeline would travel about 340 miles across Minnesota on its route from Alberta to the Enbridge terminal in Superior. It would carry 760,000 barrels of oil per day, and the company hopes to put it into service by the end of next year.
“After more than four years of regulatory and permitting review, Line 3 is the most studied pipeline project in Minnesota history,” Enbridge said in a statement Thursday. “The revised Final Environmental Impact Statement is a thorough 13,500 page environmental review … which was already found adequate by an independent administrative law judge, and unanimously approved by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.
The PUC will need to sign off on the expanded environmental impact statement before it considers reissuing a certificate of need and route permit for the pipeline, which it previously granted in June 2018.
Public comments will be accepted until Jan. 16 and can be filed at mn.gov/puc/consumers/speak-up, referencing docket numbers 14-916 and 15-137.
The amended final environmental impact statement can be viewed at mn.gov/eera/web/file-list/13765.