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Energy regulators set to make crucial decision on Enbridge pipeline

Officials will deliberate over the proposal this week.

This is a crucial week for the proposal by energy company Enbridge to replace its Line 3 oil pipeline that bisects northern Minnesota.

The company says its 282-mile existing line is aging and needs replacement for safety reasons.

It has submitted a proposal for a new, 337-mile long, 36-inch diameter pipeline that cuts a route further south through Minnesota, adjacent to existing pipelines.

It avoids tribal lands as it passes through counties including Wadena, Cass, Aitkin and Carlton on its way to its transmission station in Superior, Wisconsin.

Preferred Line 3 route

The Public Utilities Commission meets on Tuesday to start its final deliberations on the pipeline, and could make a decision by the end of the week following a 3-year permitting process.

And while there is support for the pipeline, which Enbridge says will create thousands of construction jobs and boost economic activity by hundreds of millions of dollars.

But there remains substantial opposition to the project from environmental groups that object to the continued use of the Canadian tar sands crude oil it will carry to Superior.

Tribal leaders also oppose it on the grounds a spill could potentially damage waters where wild rice is harvested.

Minnesota's commerce department has previously said it doesn't believe a pipeline replacement is necessary, saying the demand for petroleum products wasn't likely to increase in the long-term and the existing line should be shut down, rather than replaced.

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