Minnesota PUC approves Canadian oil pipeline

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Enbridge Energy received the go ahead today to build a big new pipeline to carry oil from Canada to refineries in Minnesota and elsewhere in the Midwest.

Environmental groups say oil from the tar sands of Alberta is bad for the environment, because it puts out more pollutants and more global warming greenhouse gases, than conventional oil.

The groups argued that new laws and new kinds of cars will remove the need for tar sands oil.

Kevin Reuther with the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy argued that policy changes expected with the new Obama administration will remove the need for the oil, which comes from tar sands.

"Demand for this type of fuel is going to go down, especially because tar sands fuel is very dirty, it's very carbon intensive, and also the refining of this fuel adds more pollutants than what conventional oil results in," said Reuther.

But the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission unanimously rejected that argument.

Denise Hamsher with Enbridge Energy says the Midwest is already counting on tar sands oil.

"If we took that million barrels a day off the market, not only would we see a very quick return to $4 a-gallon gasoline, but probably [see] higher and longer lines," said Hamsher.

Now the PUC turns its attention to routing for the pipeline, as environmental groups decide whether to go to court.

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