- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed state utility regulators’ approval of the state’s Line 3 pipeline on Monday, upsetting climate activists who are escalating their calls for the Biden administration to intervene.
A three-judge appeals court panel ruled 2-1 that the state’s independent Public Utilities Commission correctly granted Enbridge permits to expand Line 3, rebuking a challenge by tribes and environmental groups that claimed the Canadian-based company failed to submit an accurate long-term oil demand forecast and that regulators approved the project based on those faulty assumptions.
“There was no crystal ball to forecast demand for crude oil in this ever-changing environment,” wrote Judge Lucinda Jesson, who was joined by Judge Michael Kirk.
Pipeline opponents are expected to appeal to the state’s Supreme Court.
Enbridge is looking to replace an aging pipeline to transport crude oil from Canada’s Alberta oil sands through the state's watersheds and tribal lands to Superior, Wisconsin. Enbridge says the $9 billion pipeline expansion is needed to replace an existing pipeline from the 1960s that is corroding and only operating at half capacity. The Line 3 replacement would double the capacity of the pipeline to 760,000 barrels of oil per day.
But groups fighting the project have said it threatens drinking water because of possible leaks and that it infringes on the rights of indigenous people who use the headwaters for hunting, fishing, and harvesting wild rice.
The Line 3 pipeline expansion was the subject of large protests last week, leading to tense standoffs in northern Minnesota with police and the arrests of more than 160 people.
“If President Biden wants to have any credibility on climate and indigenous rights, this is a key test," Collin Rees, a senior campaigner with Oil Change U.S., recently told the Washington Examiner. “The pressure is going to be all-out on them, and they will have to make a decision.”
Despite pressure from activists emboldened from the recent death of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, the Biden administration has declined to weigh in on the Line 3 expansion.
Biden, on his first day in office, canceled a permit for the better-known Keystone XL pipeline, which would have also delivered crude from Canada's Alberta oil sands to a different destination of refineries on the Gulf Coast.
That decision prompted backlash from labor groups, a key Biden constituency, that said the cancellation would kill thousands of construction jobs.
Since then, the administration has demonstrated reluctance to oppose other pipelines approved in the Trump administration targeted by environmentalists. These projects differ from Keystone XL, which was never finished being built, in that they are either operational or enhancing existing pipelines.
Washington Examiner Videos
Original Author: Josh Siegel
Original Location: Greens lose challenge to Minnesota's Line 3 pipeline in state court