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Line 3 Weathers Another Legal Challenge

Copyright © 2021 Energy Intelligence Group
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A Minnesota appeals court has upheld yet another legal challenge to Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement project, even as opposition intensifies from environmental activists and indigenous rights advocates. Line 3 marks an example of an oil project that environmentalists hoped the Biden administration would step into the arena on and take a position that the project should be halted, given the climate change implications (OD May14'21). But the administration has so far been slow to wade into the fray on individual pipeline projects despite its high-profile termination of a key permit for the Keystone XL project in January (OD Feb.9'21). In the case of Line 3, the federal government approved its own Clean Water Act (CWA) authorizations in November and the Army Corps of Engineers has not changed its position. CWA Challenge The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday upheld the state water quality permit issued under the CWA by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), finding the permit is “not affected by legal error and is supported by substantial evidence in the record.” In the court case, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, White Earth Band of Ojibwe, Sierra Club, Honor the Earth, and Friends of the Headwaters argued the MPCA failed to consider alternative pipeline routes for the pipeline. The groups also faulted the state agency’s determination that the project would not violate state water quality regulations under section 401 of the federal water law, and that the MPCA review improperly limited its scope to discharge and construction impacts. Another Victory The appeals court’s decision knocks down yet another legal challenge to the project, which in recent months has gained grassroots momentum as an example of oil and gas projects clashing with indigenous rights. Monday’s decision comes on the heels of last week’s Minnesota Supreme Court ruling backing the state’s approval of the project’s project route (OD Aug.25'21). The 337 mile pipeline is slated to replace Enbridge's existing Line 3 from Joliette, North Dakota to Clearbrook, Minnesota, and follow existing pipeline and transmission routes from Clearbrook to Superior, Wisconsin. Enbridge has said it expects to complete the project in the fourth quarter this year. Bridget DiCosmo, Washington

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