MONDAY 6/14/2021 10:32 a.m.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday affirmed state regulators’ key approvals of Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 oil pipeline replacement project, in a dispute that drew over 1,000 protesters to northern Minnesota last week.
A three-judge panel ruled 2-1 that the state’s independent Public Utilities Commission correctly granted Enbridge the certificate of need and route permit that the Canadian-based company needed to begin construction on the 337-mile (542-kilometer) Minnesota segment of a larger project to replace a 1960s-era crude oil pipeline that has been deteriorating and can run at only half capacity.
Pipeline opponents can appeal the decision to the Minnesota Supreme Court.
Tribal and climate change groups, plus the state Department of Commerce, had asked the appeals court to reject the approvals. They argued, among other things, that Enbridge’s oil demand projections failed to meet the legal requirements. Enbridge and the PUC said the projections complied with the rules.
At least 1,000 activists from across the country gathered at construction sites near the headwaters of the Mississippi River early last week. They called on President Joe Biden to cancel the project, as he did with the Keystone XL pipeline on his first day in office. Nearly 250 people were arrested, in addition to more than 250 arrests since construction began in December. A smaller group marched Thursday to the Minneapolis office of Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
The Line 3 replacement would carry Canadian tar sands oil and regular crude from Alberta to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. The project is nearly done except for the Minnesota leg, which is about 60% complete.
Opponents of the more than $7 billion project say the heavy oil would accelerate climate change and risk spills in sensitive areas where Native Americans harvest wild rice, hunt, fish, gather medicinal plants and claim treaty rights.
Calgary-based Enbridge says the replacement Line 3 will be made of stronger steel and will better protect the environment while restoring its capacity to carry oil and ensure reliable deliveries to U.S. refineries. It underwent a rigorous environmental permitting process. The old line currently runs at about half its capacity because it’s increasingly subject to corrosion and cracking.
Activists are vowing to keep up a summer of resistance against the project amid the escalating battle over energy projects and rising awareness that racial minorities suffer disproportionate harm from environmental damage. And they’re drawing parallels with the fight over the Dakota Access pipeline, which was the subject of major protests near the Standing Rock Reservation in the Dakotas in 2016 and 2017.
“Minnesota does not need this conflict. Minnesota has already had enough police problems, and we are very upset at the level of private security and police forces that are all over the north right now,” Winona LaDuke, executive director of the Indigenous-based environmental group Honor the Earth, told reporters on a conference call Friday. “For a Canadian corporation. So we’ll stand our ground … and more will be coming. Guaranteed.”
“If the Biden administration is under any illusions, this is now very much a national fight that people are going to be knowing more and more about,” said Bill McKibben, founder of the climate change group 350.org. “People are already flooding in from all parts of the country.”
ORIGINAL: Large protests planned for pipeline that runs through northern Wisconsin
MONDAY 6/7/2021 9:00 a.m.
SOLWAY, Minn. (AP) — Environmental and tribal groups opposed to Enbridge Energy’s ongoing effort to replace its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline are planning large protests in northern Minnesota on Monday as the Canadian-based company gears up for a final construction push.
Organizers say they expect hundreds of people to participate in the “Treaty People Gathering,” which they are billing as the largest show of resistance yet to the project. They plan to march to the headwaters of the Mississippi River, one of the water crossings for the pipeline, where they will deliver speeches and participate in organized civil disobedience.
Opponents of the project have said they will do whatever it takes to block completion of the project, including risk of being arrested. Among those they say will be on hand Monday will be actors Jane Fonda, Catherine Keener, Rosanna Arquette and Taylor Schilling, as well as environmentalist and author Bill McKibben.
Line 3 carries Canadian crude from Alberta. It clips a corner of North Dakota on its way across northern Minnesota to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. The Canadian and Wisconsin replacement segments are already carrying oil. The Minnesota segment is about 60% complete.
Project opponents say the replacement pipeline, which would carry Canadian tar sands oil and regular crude, would worsen climate change and risk spills in sensitive areas where Native Americans harvest wild rice, hunt, fish, gather medicinal plants and claim treaty rights.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz told Minnesota Public Radio News that he doesn’t plan to deploy the National Guard during the event, saying he doesn’t expect protesters to “interfere with lawful construction or lawful practices.”