As expected, Gov. Mark Dayton vetoed legislation that would have allowed Enbridge to build a controversial new oil pipeline without getting regulatory approval.

The legislation would have terminated a three-year process before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) that is nearly complete.

The PUC is slated next month to decide if Enbridge's new Line 3 across northern Minnesota is needed, and if so, what route it should take.

"This bill pre-empts the long-standing PUC process, which has been established in law, and which has been used for years to make those complex and controversial decisions," Dayton said in a letter Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, speaker of the house.

The legislation would also disregard the input of "thousands of Minnesotans who have participated in the [regulatory] process," including by attending public meetings and hearings, Dayton wrote.

The bill was introduced by Republican legislators who said the PUC process has taken too long and that construction of a new Line 3 would provide an economic spark in northern Minnesota. The $2.6 billion project is expected to create more than 4,000 construction jobs, as well as ancillary economic activity.

Opponents of the legislation said it was simply and end-run around the PUC.

Enbridge's existing Line 3 pipeline, which transports Canadian oil to the company's terminal in Superior, Wis., is aging, corroding and operating at just over half of its capacity due to safety concerns. Calgary-based Enbridge wants to replace Line 3 with a new pipeline that would run on a new route.

Environmental groups and American Indian bands oppose the pipeline and the new route, saying it would open a new region of lakes, rivers and wild rice waters to degradation from possible oil spills.

Mike Hughlett • 612-673-7003