Appeals court refuses to stop construction of Line 3 oil pipeline

A pipe is lowered into a ditch.
Protesters interrupt construction on the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline North of Aitkin, Minn., on Jan. 9.
Ben Hovland for MPR News file

The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday denied a request by two American Indian tribes to shut down construction of a contentious crude oil pipeline project in northern Minnesota.

Opponents of the Enbridge Line 3 replacement project, led by the Red Lake Band of Chippewa and White Earth Band of Ojibwe, said in their petition that construction would destroy land that is protected by treaty agreements and would violate cultural and religious rights.

Enbridge said the petition had no merit and did not “recognize the exhaustive and meticulous review” of the project.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Dec. 9 denied the tribes' motion to halt construction and on Dec. 23 denied a petition for reconsideration of that decision. Other cases seeking to halt the project remain in the appeals court and the tribes had asked the court to intervene in the meantime.

Line 3 starts in Alberta, Canada, and clips a corner of North Dakota before crossing northern Minnesota en route to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. The 337-mile line in Minnesota is the last step in replacing the deteriorating pipeline that was built in the 1960s.

Construction began in early December.

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