The Line 3 replacement project this week cleared yet another hurdle thrown in front of it, through what has been an exhaustive process.

The Public Utilities Commision (PUC) voted the the final Environmental Impact Statement as adequate, gave approval to the certificate of need, and gave the green light to the route permit along the preferred route.

We were in this same position more than a year-and-a-half ago when the PUC gave unanimous approval to rebuild Line 3 across northern Minnesota.

But then a state court overturned the project’s environmental review. This week, the PUC approved the revised version.

This is all great news and checks more boxes that could allow work to begin this summer, as hoped. Emphasis is on “could” because you never know what the environmental activists might have up their sleeve next to appeal and drag the project back in court. Extremists have vowed to continue their efforts to disrupt this project.

A House bill already has been authored for the 2020 session that would stiffen penalties for criminal trespassing or damaging critical infrastructure such as pipelines. The goal would be to deter criminal activity, such as last November when a group of extremists put up a 30-foot-tall tripod and blocked work at the Clearbrook Terminal.

As of now, we’re just waiting on the additional permit approval from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

This project is necessary and it’s long overdue. It has been studied and studied and studied and continues to pass the test.

All the while, Line 3 is 60 years old and deteriorating more every day. A modern replacement would provide us with the safest means of transporting crude, protecting our environment and reducing traffic on railroads and highways in the process. Fossil fuels are going to be in use for the foreseeable future, so let’s make sure our infrastructure is the best it can be.

Credit the PUC for its votes of support for Line 3 and I look forward to the day shovels hit the ground on this – the sooner the better.