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Court starts countdown for Walz to decide on Line 3 pipeline construction

Gov. Tim Walz speaks with members of the Coalition of Greater Minnesota Cities Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019, in St. Paul. Dana Ferguson / FORUM NEWS SERVICE

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Tuesday, Feb. 5, dismissed an appeal blocking the construction of the Enbridge Energy Line 3 oil pipeline, setting up a 20-day deadline for the Walz administration to resurrect the appeal or drop it.

The countdown comes after Gov. Tim Walz, within days of taking office, said he would review the state Department of Commerce's appeal, which put the project on hold. That appeal was filed during the final days of Gov. Mark Dayton's administration.

In its decision, the court said the appeal from the Department of Commerce was filed "prematurely," before the Public Utilities Commission issued its final order. It also said the Walz administration could file for reconsideration, but that would have to come within 20 days.

Groups supporting and opposing the replacement of the 340 miles of pipeline that carries oil from Alberta, Canada, to Superior, Wis., have traveled to the Capitol to request meetings with Walz and said they were confident they could impact his decision. Walz told reporters last month that he planned to review the appeal with the Commerce Commissioner before making up his mind.

And on Wednesday, a spokesperson for Walz said the governor was meeting with stakeholders to help decide his next steps.

Enbridge will continue to pursue environmental permits and approvals, Enbridge spokeswoman Juli Kellner said in a statement. She said the company expected to bring the project into service before the end of the year if permits come through.

State Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, said he felt the court made the right decision in dismissing the appeal and urged the DFL governor to drop the appeal and let construction move forward.

"Let's move on," Fabian said. "Let's put the pipe in the ground."

Forum News Service reporter Jimmy Lovrien contributed to this report.