State utility regulators are once again preparing to make a decision on the Line 3 oil pipeline replacement project.
But last summer, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that the project first needed a revised environmental study in order to move forward. The court said the project’s original environmental review didn't adequately address the potential impact of a spill in the Lake Superior watershed.
On Friday, the PUC will meet in St. Paul to take public comment on the revised study. On Monday, PUC commissioners will decide whether to accept it — and whether they will again approve the controversial project.
The new pipeline would replace one of the five Enbridge pipelines that carry oil across northern Minnesota. It has drawn strong opposition from environmental groups, tribal groups and some tribal governments and climate change activists.
Enbridge says the project is necessary — that the current Line 3 pipeline has been transporting oil across northern Minnesota from Alberta, Canada, since the 1960s and needs to be replaced. Labor and industry groups support the project for the construction jobs it would create. Local government officials tout the benefits of the tax revenue it would generate for the counties it crosses.
But opponents argue that a new pipeline would enable more oil to be transported — and then burned — worsening the effects of climate change. They say they are concerned about the risk of oil spills in a part of Minnesota replete with lakes and rivers.
If the project is approved, Enbridge has said it hopes to begin construction later this year. The controversial project has already attracted several legal and other challenges, and more are expected.