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Line 3 approval a good thing, says area county commissioner

Controversial pipeline replacement has had numerous hurdles.

Map of line 3 project (Enbridge graphic)
Map of line 3 project (Enbridge graphic)
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The approval this week of the Line 3 Pipeline by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission is a positive decision for northwest Minnesota, says a member of the Pennington County Commission.

“I think it’s a good thing. It’s been a long time coming,” said Neil Peterson. “This thing has probably been the most thoroughly looked at project that I remember.”

The Line 3 pipeline, proposed by Enbridge, will follow the company’s existing Line 3 route from Joliette, N.D., to Clearbrook, Minn., and then turn east toward Duluth. The $2.9 billion project will replace the existing 34-inch pipe with a new 36-inch pipe for 13 miles in North Dakota, 337 in Minnesota and 14 in Wisconsin, the company said.

The Public Utilities Commission approved the Line 3 project’s certificate of need and route permit on a 3-1 vote.

The project has been criticized by American Indian tribes and others who are concerned about the pipe’s passage through environmentally sensitive areas in the lakes country of northwest and north-central Minnesota. Some Minnesota residents are critical of the project because they say pipelines, a part of oil-related infrastructure, add to climate change.


Minnesota PUC member Matthew Schuerger cast the dissenting vote, saying he believes demand and need for oil will decrease. He also worries about the impact fossil fuel has on climate change.

“The science on climate change is entirely clear,” Schuerger said in a Forum News Service report. “We must take actions to reduce climate change.”

The replacement pipe is expected to transport up to 760,000 barrels per day.

Peterson, who in addition to being a commission member in Pennington County also farms near St. Hilaire, Minn., said Line 3 will improve safety. The pipe runs through Peterson’s land.

“The (current Enbridge) pipe is old. It’s degrading,” Peterson said.

Meanwhile, he has confidence in the Enbridge company to stand behind its pipeline, he said.

“My family has owned land in this county since the 1800s, and we have been involved in every line from the Lakehead Pipeline to Enbridge. We have had nothing but good results from Enbridge,” Peterson said.

Besides installing a safer pipeline, the Line 3 project also will give a boost to the northwest Minnesota economy, he said.


“It's a great economic impact to our region, with the construction and all the things that comes with it, as far as food, lodging, gas – all those amenities those guys will need,” Peterson said.

Marshall County Auditor Scott Peters also welcomed the PUC’s recent approval of Line 3.

Currently, pipelines are the safest mode of transportation, Peters said. The Line 3 pipeline will resolve the safety issues existing with the aging pipeline, he said.

“The oil has to come somehow. Do you want a 1965 model or a 2020 model?” Peters asked. “We think the 2020 model is the safest.”

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