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Park Rapids to host public meeting on Line 3 pipeline project

A public meeting on the draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for Enbridge's proposed Line 3 pipeline project will be held Wednesday, June 7 in Park Rapids.

The meeting is hosted by the Minnesota Department of Commerce and takes place at Park Rapids Area High School from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Under the authority of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and its decisionmaking process, the State of Minnesota issued the draft EIS on May 15 for a public review and comment period that extends through July 10 and includes 22 public meetings in the counties through which the proposed pipeline or an alternative route is under consideration.

Meetings will be held in Bagley and Grand Rapids on Tuesday, June 6; Park Rapids and Cass Lake on Wednesday, June 7; Floodwood and Brainerd on Thursday, June 8; and Wadena on Friday, June 9.

The draft environmental impact statement didn't make a recommendation for the $7.5 billion pipeline. It did indicate that each of the five routes under consideration would have some environmental impacts, including Enbridge's preferred route, but that the difference between them is minimal.

The draft EIS and full schedule of public meetings are available at

Enbridge Energy has applied for a certificate of need and route permit from the Public Utilities Commission to construct its proposed Line 3 pipeline project. By order of the Commission, a draft EIS has been prepared by the Minnesota Commerce Department in cooperation with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to evaluate the potential human and environmental impacts.

Built in the 1960s, Line 3 is a 1,097-mile crude oil pipeline extending from Edmonton, Alberta to Superior, Wis. Enbridge calls Line 3 an integral part of its mainline system.

"Line 3 is an essential project for Minnesotans that will ensure the safety and environmental protection of our important natural resources while also ensuring the safe transportation of crude oil to refineries in Minnesota, the Midwest and beyond," states Barry Simonson, director of the Line 3 replacement project.

Honor the Earth opposes the proposed route for Line 3, saying the new corridor threatens Minnesota's lake country and the tourism economy it supports, along with the natural and cultural resources critical to the survival of tribal communities.

Honor the Earth released a statement this week urging Native Americans and all concerned Minnesotans along the pipeline route and elsewhere to learn about the pipeline and attend the public meetings.

"Our wild rice beds, lakes, and rivers are precious. Our regional fisheries alone generate $7.2 billion annually, and support 49,000 jobs, and our tourism economy another $ll.9 billion and 240,000 jobs," Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth, said in a statement. "At best, Line 3 will create 25 permanent jobs here, but removing the old pipes would bring a lot more. Enbridge should be required to clean up its old mess before creating a new one, and to put Minnesotans to work doing it. An abandoned pipeline poses an enormous liability for landowners, and unfortunately there is no federal or state regulation to protect them. It is critical that people attend these meetings to voice their concerns."

The purpose of the upcoming meetings is to inform the public about the contents of the draft EIS and to provide an opportunity for the public to submit comments, either oral or written, to help prepare the final EIS for the Public Utilities Commission's decisionmaking on Enbridge's proposed project.

Each meeting will begin with an open house featuring information stations on specific topics in the draft EIS. Staffed by agency representatives, the stations will allow Minnesotans to learn about the contents of the draft EIS.

The open house will be followed by a brief presentation about the purpose of the EIS and the regulatory review process before the Public Utilities Commission's final decisions.

Each meeting will conclude with an open comment session, allowing members of the public to offer input on the draft EIS, which will be transcribed by a court reporter for the official record. The time available for each comment will depend on the number of people requesting to speak. There is also the option of providing comments individually to a court reporter during the open house.

In addition, Minnesotans can submit written comments, either at the meeting or via email, fax or regular mail. All comments for the record, whether oral or written, will be considered in preparing the final EIS.

Government-to-government consultations between the State of Minnesota and the tribal governments in the state are also ongoing as part of the environmental review process.

After completion of the final EIS, a series of public hearings will be held later in 2017 by an administrative law judge from the Minnesota Office of Administrative Hearings to address Enbridge's certificate of need and route permit applications. At these public hearings, Minnesotans will be able to submit comments, present evidence and ask questions.

The administrative law judge will submit a report to the Public Utilities Commission with findings of facts, conclusions of law and recommendations. The commission is expected to decide on Enbridge's certificate of need and route permit applications in the spring of 2018.

Enbridge is proposing to construct a new oil pipeline in Minnesota, replacing its existing Line 3. As proposed, the new pipeline would follow the existing Line 3 from the North Dakota border near Hallock to an Enbridge terminal in Clearbrook. From Clearbrook eastward, the proposed pipeline would follow a new right-of-way, south of the existing Line 3, ending at an existing terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. The existing Line 3 would be abandoned and left in place after the new pipeline is installed, tested and operational.

Written comments on the draft EIS will be accepted through Monday, July 10, 2017. Comments may be emailed to Pipeline.CommentsJamie MacAlister, Environmental Review Manager; 85 7th Place East, Suite 280, St. Paul, MN 55101-2198.