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Enbridge faces more requirements before construction can begin

DULUTH — Although Enbridge's Line 3 replacement was approved Thursday, the company still needs to clear several hurdles before construction can begin on the 340-mile oil pipeline across Minnesota.

But Guy Jarvis, Enbridge's vice president of liquids, pipelines and major projects, said Friday morning, June 30, that he still expects the project to obtain an authorization to construct in November so work on the pipeline can begin and finish within 2019.

"We're very happy, obviously, but it's not the end. We need permits from the state and the Army Corps (of Engineers)," Jarvis said. "That will require continued engagement on community and environmental issues."

Once complete, the pipeline will carry 760,000 barrels of oil per day across northern Minnesota on its route from Alberta to the Enbridge terminal in Superior, Wis. Enbridge has been working for more than three years to get the project approved.

While the company maintains that the new pipeline is needed to replace the existing and aging Line 3, opponents argue the line contributes to climate change, violates indigenous rights and is ultimately unnecessary.

The five-member Minnesota Public Utilities Commission unanimously granted the project a certificate of need Thursday, and commissioners also voted 3-2 to approve the pipeline's route — modified from Enbridge's preferred path to avoid Big Sandy Lake where at least 400 Anishinaabe people died in the Sandy Lake Tragedy of 1850.

What's unknown is where the route will go after that. The PUC gave the company and Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa two months to negotiate whether the pipeline will travel through or around the reservation.

In a statement released by the Fond du Lac Band Thursday, the band said they would push for some areas to be avoided by the route.

"It is imperative that we not allow places like Big Sandy Lake, the Moosehorn River, and the Fond du Lac State Forest to be sacrificed so that a Canadian oil company can profit," the band wrote.

The band also plans to appeal the PUC's decision.

"The Fond du Lac Band is prepared to appeal this decision and we will evaluate our options as we receive the full written decision from the Commission," the band wrote. "In the meantime, our employees will continue their critical work surveying for tribal cultural properties that must be protected along the route of the pipeline expansion proposed by Enbridge."

Enbridge would prefer to push the route along what's called RSA 22, which would follow the existing pipeline corridor through Fond du Lac. Bands have the ability to block any new pipelines on their reservation.

Jarvis that if RSA 22 does not come to fruition in the negotiations, RSA 21, which would bypass Fond du Lac, is a fair alternative.

"We welcome that opportunity and expect to be fully engaged very quickly on it," Jarvis said of the negotiations. "If that doesn't play out, we do have the buildable segment alternative 21, which we also are supportive of."

Jimmy Lovrien

Jimmy Lovrien is a reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. He spent the summer of 2015 as an intern for the Duluth News Tribune and was hired full time in October 2017 as a reporter for the Weekly Observer. He also reported for the Lake County News-Chronicle in 2017-18. Lovrien grew up in Alexandria, Minn., but moved to Duluth in 2013 to attend The College of St. Scholastica. Lovrien graduated from St. Scholastica in 2017 with a bachelor's degree in English and history. He also spent a summer studying journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

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