Enbridge Inc. has defeated the second protest lawsuit aimed at halting construction of the $2.6 billion Minnesota leg in its Line 3 pipe replacement project by winning a U.S. district court verdict.
The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia rejected a demand for a preliminary injunction to stop work on the 340-mile oil conduit across the state by two Minnesota native Ojibwe bands and a pair of environmental organizations.
The decision, released over the weekend, ruled that the protestors failed to show they would suffer irreparable harm if construction continued or that they would likely win their case to set aside the federal project approval by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The federal verdict came five days after the Minnesota Court of Appeals dismissed a similar injunction request. The state ruling upheld rejection by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MPUC) of pipeline foe demands for a state stop-work order.
The injunction rulings decided initial procedural rounds of legal duels that are liable to become marathon trials of the protest lawsuits on their merits. The Minnesota court has set a late March date for oral arguments in the Line 3 state appeal case.
After successfully completing a six-year regulatory ordeal before state and federal regulators, Enbridge began construction at a brisk pace in December after obtaining all necessary approvals and permits.
The Minnesota work is scheduled to take about nine months for a labor force expected to peak at more than 4,000. All other legs of the $9 billion, 1,031-mile Line 3 pipe replacement project have been completed in Canada, North Dakota and Wisconsin.
Canadian shippers, led by the country’s top natural gas user, Alberta thermal oilsands production, are forecast to gain 370,000 b/d of export capacity because the new pipe would enable 52-year-old Line 3 to increase operating pressure.
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Earthjustice, opposed to the conduit, said Monday it would continue to press ots case.”
“The Army Corps recklessly ignored the harm that this dangerous pipeline will cause to water, species and ecosystems, and it failed to consider how that harm will affect Tribal citizens who rely on subsistence fishing, hunting, and gathering. The Biden administration has pledged to address environmental racism, but actions speak louder than words.”
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