Inside Track
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The Minnesota Department of Commerce Monday released an amended environmental review of Enbridge’s controversial new Line 3 oil pipeline, though it includes no major changes.

In December, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission rejected the commerce department’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on a handful of narrow concerns. The PUC gave the department 60 days to make clarifications.

Calgary-based Enbridge wants to build a new pipeline across northern Minnesota to transport Canadian oil to its terminal in Superior, Wis. The new pipeline would replace Enbridge’s aging and corroding Line 3, which is running at just over half of its capacity due to safety concerns.

The new Line 3 would follow the path of the current pipeline to Clearbrook, Minn., but it would then jog south to Park Rapids before heading east to Superior. Environmental groups and Indian tribes oppose new Line 3, saying it would open a new region of lakes and rivers to possible degradation from oil spills.

They have asked the PUC to reconsider its December decision on the EIS, claiming the document should be rejected because it’s fundamentally flawed, lacking among other things an assessment of large oil spills. The PUC is expected to hear their reconsideration arguments next week.

While the PUC declared the EIS “inadequate,” it did so on more technical grounds. The PUC essentially asked the commerce department for more information on alternative routes to Enbridge’s preferred path for Line 3.

The PUC is slated to vote again on the EIS's adequacy in March. The commission is expected in June to make a ruling on the larger issue of whether the pipeline is needed.