AITKIN – State Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, indicated he is satisfied with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission decisions Thursday to approve a certificate of need for replacing the 60-year-old Pipeline 3 and accept of most of the preferred route across the northern third of Minnesota.
“The PUC’s decision to allow replacement of Enbridge’s Line 3 was long overdue,” Lueck said. “It is a positive step in protecting public safety by ensuring we transport crude oil in the safest manner possible which is by a modern new pipeline. The decision eliminates the threat of 20 crude oil trains per day having to transit back and forth through the cities of Brainerd, Deerwood, Aitkin, McGregor and Tamarack. It’s a good decision for both public safety and protecting our environment.”
The new $2.6 billion Line 3 project is set to replace the original pipeline, which is one of Minnesota’s oldest operating crude oil pipeline which was installed in the 1960s. The line continues to age and is operating at about half of its original capacity of 760,000 barrels per day. While more work is required to finalize construction permits, actual construction could start as early as late this fall or mid-winter.
The new Line 3 would have a capacity of 844,000 barrels, stretching about 340 miles across Minnesota from the Canadian border in Northwest Minnesota to the Enbridge terminal in Superior, Wis. The PUC’s modification does impact the route that transits northern Aitkin County. Most of the path approved by the PUC still follows Enbridge’s preferred route, with a modification to avoid Big Sandy Lake area, nine miles north of McGregor.
The pipeline will pass north, rather than south of Big Sandy Lake. The PUC directed Enbridge and the Fond de lac Tribal Government work out final details of whether that route adjustment would also include transiting along the old Line 3 route through the center of the Fond de lac Reservation or a new route passing along the southern edge of the reservation.
“The decision has been made and it’s incumbent that all Minnesotan’s conduct themselves in a mature and peaceful manner.” Lueck said. “It is very disappointing to already hear threatening rhetoric calling for a Standing Rock-type response. I call upon all parties to respect the safety of the workers, government regulatory officials and law enforcement personnel that will be involved in the project. The terrible mess left in the wake of the Standing Rock episode resulted in unnecessary damage to the environment and a million-dollar bill to clean up the environmental mess left by the Standing Rock encampment inhabitants.”