Enbridge Energy, Fond du Lac Band reach deal on Line 3

Enbridge Energy and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa announced Friday that they have reached an agreement to build the Line 3 replacement oil pipeline through the band's reservation in northeast Minnesota.

Financial terms of the deal were confidential.

According to a joint statement, the agreement gives Enbridge easements for six existing oil pipelines through 2039. Enbridge, based in Calgary, plans to build the new pipeline in an expanded right of way adjacent to existing pipelines on the reservation.

The band, which has been one of Line 3's most vocal opponents, also agreed not to participate in any opposition to the project. But the band may comment on environmental, cultural or other issues.

Line 3 was built in the 1960s. It carries Canadian crude from Alberta through North Dakota and Minnesota to Enbridge's terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. Opponents said the project poses the risk of oil spills in a pristine area of northern Minnesota. Enbridge contends the replacement will be safer.

Minnesota Public Radio News reported the new pipeline will follow a different route through Minnesota than Enbridge's current pipelines. The new route avoids the Leech Lake reservation after the band refused to allow it on its land.

But the Fond du Lac band ultimately decided that allowing the new pipeline on its reservation would best protect the band's interests.

The band said the agreement will protect wild rice waters and other resources in ceded territory, will repair existing lines on the reservation and will compensate the band for the costs of having the pipelines on its land.

"The benefits to the band far exceed those of potential alternatives, and the agreement was the result of months of extensive consideration and strong advocacy on behalf of the band," said tribal council chairman Kevin Dupuis Sr.