Minnesota to open 22 meetings on disputed Enbridge pipeline

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Minnesota regulators are getting ready to open a series of 22 public meetings on an oil pipeline project that opponents have dubbed the next Dakota Access pipeline struggle.

Enbridge Energy is seeking approval to replace its aging Line 3 pipeline across northern Minnesota. The meetings along the proposed route are meant to give the public a chance to comment on the draft environmental review for the project, which was released last month.

The first two meetings are scheduled for Tuesday, and a final decision from Minnesota isn’t expected until next year.

Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge built Line 3 in the 1960s to carry Canadian crude to its terminal in Superior, Wisconsin.

It runs from Hardisty, Alberta, to Enbridge’s terminal in Clearbrook in northwestern Minnesota, to Superior. Most of the U.S. portion of the route is in Minnesota, though it also clips a corner of North Dakota.

Enbridge proposed the $7.5 billion replacement project because the deteriorating pipeline is now restricted to 390,000 barrels per day.

The replacement would restore the original capacity of 760,000 barrels per day.

The company says the existing Line 3 is in an already crowded corridor.

It says the best way to replace it is to follow the existing path as far as Clearbrook, then take a new more southerly route to Superior.

The draft review looks at the proposed route as well as four alternative paths but does not recommend one over the other.

The new route would cut through Mississippi River headwaters region and the pristine lake country of northern Minnesota where Native Americans harvest wild rice and hold treaty rights.

Tribal groups say Enbridge’s preferred route risks oil spills in sensitive areas and the six Ojibwe bands in the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe are preparing their own environmental impact statement.