Enbridge's Line 3 Gets Another Delay

January 11, 2018

INDUSTRY NEWS (Houston, TX) – Minnesota public utility regulators recently rejected a judge’s recommendation that would have pushed out their final decision on a controversial crude oil pipeline until September.

Instead, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) moved its decision date on Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 from April or May to sometime in June. The new Line 3, first proposed in 2014, would carry Canadian oil across northern Minnesota to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wis.

A kerfuffle over scheduling arose after the PUC in December rejected the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on Line 3. The Commerce Department basically has 60 days to respond to a few narrow concerns brought up by the PUC.

To take into account EIS revisions, environmental groups and Indian tribes opposing the pipeline asked for more time to make their final arguments. Administrative Law Judge Ann O’Reilly essentially agreed, concluding that final arguments could be “flawed, incomplete or inconsistent” if made before the EIS is deemed adequate, according to a PUC filing.

Administrative law judges are appointed in contested cases before the PUC, and the 340-mile long new Line 3 is about as contested as they come. Enbridge says the pipeline is necessary to replace the corroding 1960s-vintage current Line 3. Opponents say Enbridge’s path for the new Line 3 would open a new region of lakes and rivers to degradation from oil spills.

After several rounds of legal briefings and hearings, O’Reilly will write a report on Line 3 that will be weighed heavily by the PUC.

Her report was originally due Feb. 28, which would have meant a PUC final decision by April 30. In late November, the due date for O’Reilly’s report was extended to March 30, likely pushing out the PUC’s verdict to May.

But under O’Reilly’s new schedule, the due date would be extended to mid-July, meaning the PUC couldn’t make a final decision until Sept. 6 at the earliest, a PUC filing says. Commissioners said that such a timeline would fly in the face of previous PUC decisions on Line 3.


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