The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) ruled Dec. 7 to reject the Minnesota Department of Commerce's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Enbridge's proposed Line 3 pipeline replacement project.
The ruling is a setback for a project that would provide a $2 billion economic boost for greater Minnesota. The Department of Commerce will now be required to reopen their review process and reconfigure three elements of the project deemed inadequate by the PUC.
While Thursday's Public Utilities Commission decision is unfortunate, it also showed that the overwhelming majority of the Enbridge project's Environmental Impact Study to be environmentally sound. Despite this setback, I am optimistic that the Department of Commerce will be able to develop a revised environmental report that allows the project to meet the PUC's environmental standards.
Originally constructed in the 1960s, Enbridge's Line 3 currently operates at 50 percent of capacity. While the proposed replacement line would increase volume, it would also include significantly-enhanced safety standards and environmental protections. The proposed project would also result in a significant economic boost for communities in greater Minnesota that are along the energy corridor. A recent study by the University of Minnesota—Duluth determined the project would bring $2 billion in direct and related spending. Additionally, the project would create an estimated 8,600 jobs, amounting to a payroll of $344 million over two years and additional $19.5 million in property tax revenue annually. Furthermore, upon completion, the project will provide Minnesotans with additional avenues for affordable energy that is critical to businesses and our state's economy.
The Department of Commerce now has 60 days to turn in the amended review, in which it will address the PUC's concerns on topography, drinking water impacts, and the additive nature of environmental impacts.
This is a hugely important project for our region. While this is another obstacle that we have to navigate, I believe the project will ultimately move forward — much to the benefit of all Minnesotans.