State Regulators Holding Up Another Critical Oil Pipeline

Here’s another case in point for those who still wonder why rural Minnesotans have largely abandoned the DFL in recent elections.Regulation Stamp

The Dayton administration’s heavy-handed approach to environmental regulation has already led Enbridge Energy to abandon plans to construct the $2.6 billion Sandpiper pipeline through northern Minnesota. Environmentalists won out over construction labor unions whose members and communities would have benefited from thousands of well-paying jobs and pipeline taxes.

Now state regulators under the direction of scandal-plagued, scandal-ridden Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman have hit the replay button with an Enbridge replacement pipeline that should be a no-brainer.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce said Monday that it will take a few more weeks to conduct the draft environmental review of Enbridge Energy’s proposed Line 3 replacement oil pipeline.

The draft document, in the works for more than a year, had been tentatively scheduled for public release on April 3, but the state says that won’t happen until at least May 15.

The so-called Line 3 would upgrade environmental protections along the route to the company’s terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. But Rothman continues to slow-walk a project that was already supposed to be under construction.

“The proposed Line 3 project presents significant issues,” said Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman, in a statement. “Additional time allows the department to prepare a thorough draft environmental impact statement that provides effective, meaningful public review and comment. The Public Utilities Commission has an important decision to make for Minnesota, and the Commerce Department is committed to providing the best information possible for them to use in the decision-making process.”

The Line 3 Replacement Project would do just that — replace an old pipeline that the company says is nearing the end of its practical life moving Canadian oil into the U.S. The company announced the $7.5 billion project in 2014 and had hoped to have it under construction by now. The 1,031-mile Pipeline No. 3 would replace the company’s 1968-vintage Line 3 and would bring more Canadian tar sands crude oil into the U.S.

What’s the hold up? More pipeline politics.

Rothman said the extra weeks for the review time will be used for consultation with tribal governments, additional information gathering, coordination with stakeholders and technical analysis. After the draft is released the document will see at least 22 public information meetings, one in each county through which a route is proposed. The meetings will provide the opportunity for public participation and comment. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will use those comments to decide on Enbridge’s certificate of need, whether Minnesota needs the project, and route permit that decides where the pipeline would go if needed.