Enbridge gets Minnesota Court of Appeals Line 3 approval

June 21, 2021

Enbridge Inc. received confirmation of its Line 3 Replacement Project (L3RP) in a decision from the Minnesota Court of Appeals, which deemed the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s (MPUC) approval of the project’s environmental impact statement (EIS), certificate of need, and route permit appropriate. A combination of environmental groups and Ojibwe Native American tribes have been trying to prevent the pipeline’s construction and had appealed MPUC’s 2020 approval.

The replacement project is finished in Canada, Wisconsin, and North Dakota and construction is more than 60% complete on the 340-mile section spanning Minnesota. The project is on track to be in service fourth-quarter 2021.

L3RP’s regulatory and permitting review consisted of 70 public comment meetings, appellate review and reaffirmation of the 13,500-page EIS, four separate reviews by administrative law judges, 320 route modifications, and multiple reviews and approvals by MPUC for the project’s certificate of need and route permit, according to Enbridge.

“After 6 years of community engagement, environmental review, regulatory and legal review, it’s good to see confirmation of previous decisions on the Line 3 Replacement Project,” said Vern Yu, Enbridge Executive Vice-President and President Liquids Pipelines.  “From the start, the project has been about improving safety and reliability for communities and protecting the environment.”

L3RP will replace the majority of Enbridge’s existing 34-in. OD Line 3 crude pipeline with new 36-in. OD pipeline on both sides of the Canada-US border, a total of 1,031 miles, doubling its capacity to 760,000 b/d.

On the Canadian side of the border Enbridge replaced most of the existing Line 3 between its Hardisty Terminal in east-central Alberta and Gretna, Man. In the US, Enbridge is replacing Line 3 between Neche, ND, and Superior, Wisc. Enbridge will decommission the existing Line 3 once the new line is complete.

Canada’s federal government approved L3R construction late-2016. Enbridge originally expected the line to enter service second-half 2017, but in December 2017 described its start date as uncertain and perhaps as late as November 2019, given mounting resistance inside the US.