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Enbridge pushes Line 3 pipeline project timeline back by a year

It had hoped to have the line in service by the end of 2019.

Enbridge has announced that its controversial oil pipeline replacement, known as Line 3, will now go into service in 2020, provided it gets the permission it needs for the project.

The energy transmission company had initially intended to have the pipeline, which cuts a 330-mile path through northern Minnesota, operational by the end of this year.

But on Friday, the company said it has to push back its timeline, having been given more information regarding permits by the State of Minnesota.

Enbridge had expected to get its final state construction permits by spring 2019, but was informed that this now won't happen until November.

With federal permits not due to arrive until 30-60 days after the state permits, Enbridge says it's now expecting its pipeline to start transporting oil during the second half of 2020.

The project is still the subject of a challenge by the Minnesota Department of Commerce, with new Gov. Tim Walz confirming last month his office would continue the appeal process started by his predecessor, Gov. Mark Dayton.

Walz says that his administration's appeal is designed to bring more scrutiny and clarity to the permit process, with the DOC saying the Public Utilities Commission made an error in granting a "Certificate of Need" because the long-term oil demand forecast filed by Enbridge was "inadequate."

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Line 3 is opposed by a number of environmental groups and American Indian communities, raising the objections over the continued use of fossil fuels and fears the potential for oil spills into the region's lakes and wild rice waters.

But it is backed by some leaders in northern Minnesota as well as state Republicans like House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, who see it as bringing jobs for construction workers and tax revenue for northern Minnesota communities.

He also argues that transporting oil by pipeline is safer than the alternative, namely the continued use of freight trains that are liable to derail.

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