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Judge deems Line 3 environmental review adequate

An Enbridge oil tank near Berthold, N.D. (2014 file / Forum News Service)

In a blow to pipeline opponents hoping to stop or delay the approval of the Enbridge Line 3 replacement oil pipeline, Administrative Law Judge Eric L. Lipman on Wednesday recommended that the project’s final environmental impact statement should be found adequate.

“The FEIS adequately presents methods by which adverse environmental impacts can be mitigated,” Lipman wrote in part, and he also found the document “adequately presents the economic, employment and sociological effects that cannot be avoided.”

It ultimately will be up to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission whether the massive review meets all specifications set out in state law. The PUC also is the final arbiter on whether the pipeline itself, which would cross 337 miles of Minnesota carrying 760,000 barrels of heavy crude per day between Alberta and the Enbridge terminal in Superior, will be approved. That decision is expected this spring.

“We urge the PUC to listen to the thousands of Minnesotans who have spoken out against this project, as well as the Department of Commerce’s own recommendation, and recognize that this project is not in Minnesota’s best interest,” Sierra Club state director Margaret Levin said in a statement following the judge’s finding.

Trial-like evidentiary hearings on the project began Wednesday in St. Paul.

Brooks Johnson

Brooks is an investigative/enterprise reporter and business columnist at the Duluth News Tribune.

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