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Minnesota Department of Commerce finds no need for Line 3 replacement

Danielle Kaeding

Wisconsin Public Radio

Opponents to Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 replacement project in Wisconsin are celebrating news that the Minnesota Department of Commerce has found no need for the replacement project.

Line 3 carries up to 390,000 barrels of oil per day from Canada to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior. According to Enbridge, replacing the pipeline will increase safety and nearly double its capacity — with the potential to carry up to 760,000 barrels of oil per day. But, according to the Minnesota Department of Commerce, there’s little need for the project and it may be better to shut down the old line.

Tribal and environmental groups oppose the project. Mary Beth Elliot with environmental group 350 Madison says they’re happy with the agency’s decision.

"If Line 3 is built, that will allow a lot more oil to flow into Superior, Wisconsin, and then that will allow a lot more oil to flow through Wisconsin," Elliot said.

Enbridge spokeswoman Jennifer Smith says they disagree with the Minnesota agency and that they're confident Minnesota regulators will see the importance of the project. The company is now waiting for a decision from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission expected to come next April.

"Line 3 is a critical piece of infrastructure that’s relied upon by our shippers, by our millions and millions of customers in Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Midwest that use the products that come off of this pipeline. It is a vital safety-driven, maintenance-driven project," Smith said.

While the Minnesota decision is a win for environmentalists, Enbridge is already replacing the aging pipeline in Wisconsin. The project has recently been the target of protesters at the terminal near Superior. 

Wisconsin Public Radio, © Copyright 2017, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Educational Communications Board. Find more WPR news at KUWS-FM 91.3 or wpr.org.

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