Enbridge is ensnared in the need to procure several federal and state permits, pushing back the pipeline’s operational date.
Minnesota Utility Regulators has finally quit the approval process of Enbridge’s latest oil pipeline that has dragged on for years. Before bowing out of the controversy, however, the regulatory body criticized the state’s Commerce Department.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission voted 4-0 to ensure that it will not reconsider its earlier approval for modifying the permit of Enbridge’s new Line 3 worth $2.6 billion. As this was expected, it further sets the mark for opponents to appeal for Enbridge’s permit for the replacement of Line 3.
Sources report that in this tussle, many environmental groups as well as the Department of Commerce are expected to file appeals with the court. The Department of Commerce is responsible for handling the public interest in cases in PUC.
In 2014, Enbridge had proposed a plan to replace the 1960-vintage Line 3 as it is operational at only 51% of its total capacity. As a result, Enbridge wanted to improve safety of the operations and restore proper oil flow.
In February, Gov. Tim Waltz had claimed that the Commerce Department would move ahead with appeal of Line 3 which began under former administration of Gov. Mark Dayton. However, before the appeals were made, PUC has to undertake motions of reconsidering the decision.
Although PUC refrains from commenting on the decisions of reconsiderations, it had voted unanimously in the favor of ‘certificate of need’ for Line 3. So, even though this was passed in late June last year, the final permit came in January 2019 after several modifications. It involved insurance provision and removal of old pipeline once the new one is appropriately placed.
From the ongoing scenario, it can be concluded that the Line 3 approval will come no sooner than later this year and the decision of environmental impact of the same is expected within 90 days.
Enbridge is yet to receive the permits from several other the regulatory bodies which it had previously hoped to receive by 2019. Therefore, the company is affirmed that the pipeline will not be operational before second half of 2020.