Environmental and tribal groups asked Minnesota regulators on Tuesday to reconsider their approval of Enbridge Energy's plans to replace its aging Line 3 crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota.
The groups, including the Sierra Club, Youth Climate Intervenors, Friends of the Headwaters and Honor the Earth, filed their requests with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Opponents contend the line does not meet permit criteria.
In June, the commission gave Enbridge the green light to replace Line 3. But a PUC meeting to discuss whether Enbridge met conditions was postponed earlier this month after being disrupted by protesters.
Opponents argue the PUC erred in granting a certificate of need for Line 3 because alleged harm to society would outweigh the replacement line's benefits, and that Enbridge did not prove the pipeline was needed.
"Line 3 would threaten our clean water, our communities, and our climate," Margaret Levin, state director for the Sierra Club North Star Chapter, said in a statement.
Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth, said the PUC made a "rogue decision" to approve Line 3 against the recommendations of other agencies. LaDuke called it "a crisis of civil society" and said "we need the PUC to reconsider what this decision means for the future of Minnesota and the planet."
Native American and environmental activists contend the new line is unnecessary and risks spills in fragile areas. Canadian-based Enbridge said the old line is increasingly subject to corrosion and cracking, and that its maintenance needs are accelerating. Enbridge said that without a new Line 3, its customers would have to rely more heavily on rail and truck transport, which have higher costs and risks.
"In June the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to approve the Certificate of Need for Enbridge's Line 3 Replacement Project. The petitions filed today are an expected part of this very thorough regulatory process," Enbridge said in a statement Tuesday night. "The Line 3 Replacement Project is a safety and maintenance driven project that is intended to protect the communities and the environment in northern Minnesota."
Line 3 runs from Alberta, Canada, across North Dakota and Minnesota to Enbridge's terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. Enbridge wants to replace the line, which it built in the 1960s and is running at only about half its original capacity. The replacement would restore its original capacity.