The Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected appeals for a rerun of the state regulatory review of Enbridge Inc.’s Line 3 replacement project involving the Minnesota leg of its crude pipeline, a key oil export conduit.
“This decision...now allows the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) to move forth with the permitting process,” said Enbridge Vice President Guy Jarvis.
Enbridge had predicted a favorable appellate court verdict for the hotly contested $9 billion project. The ruling stopped an attempt by environmental and tribal opponents of the project to prolong the MPUC proceeding and expand its scope beyond closing a loose end that the Minnesota Court of Appeals identified in a June decision on their lawsuits.
The June decision ordered a review of oil spill risks for the Lake Superior watershed but upheld the MPUC assessment of the pipeline’s route, greenhouse gas emissions, impact on cultural and historic resources, and cumulative effects.
The unsuccessful state Supreme Court complaint sought another full examination of all the assessment topics.
Completion of the Line 3 replacement would revive growth prospects for northern Alberta thermal oilsands production, an industry that serves as Canada’s top natural gas consumer. The replacement and expansion would add 370,000 b/d of capacity..
Construction is finished on the line’s Canadian side, while the completion target for the U.S. portion was previously expected for 2020. The June order for more regulatory work in Minnesota, as well the protest lawsuit in the state’s top court, could further prolong that timeline.