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Environmental group argues Line 3 pipeline replacement is no longer needed

Honor the Earth filed the petition with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Tuesday.

A Minnesota environmental group is asking the state to reconsider the proposed Enbridge Line 3 pipeline replacement project through Northern Minnesota, stating that the Canadian energy company no longer needs it thanks to expanded capacity on other pipelines.

On Tuesday, Honor the Earth filed a petition with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, asking the agency to investigate how efficiency and capacity improvements made by Enbridge over recent years impact the need for the Line 3 project.

The Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline replacement will allow transportation of crude oil in Minnesota, Eastern Canada and other neighboring states. The project will increase capacity by replacing the existing 34-inch diameter pipeline with a 36-inch diameter pipeline.

The project recently received two of the ten necessary approvals from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

However, the petition filed by Honor the Earth claims that capacity additions made by Enbridge between 2016 and 2019, including to lines 2, 4 and 65, have allowed the company to import an additional 400,000 barrels through Minnesota per day.

Honor the Earth also points to expansions to Lines 4 and 67 that would increase capacity by 178,400 barrels of crude oil per day.

Coupled with a decreased demand for Canadian crude oil due to COVID-19, the petition claims that the existing expansions outweigh the need for the Line 3 project, which it says would bring in 370,000 barrels per day.

“Together, these efficiency-based expansions create far more capacity than would be provided by the proposed Line 3 Pipeline’s net capacity increase of 370,000 bpd,” said Paul Blackburn, staff attorney for Honor the Earth, in a statement. “As a result, Enbridge has already met the need that formed the basis for the PUC’s approval of the Line 3 Replacement Project.”

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Enbridge acknowledged ongoing efforts to increase capacity and efficiency in a statement to the Star Tribune.

“There have been several initiatives that Enbridge has implemented in recent years to optimize its pipeline network to better meet customer demands,” the statement reads 

“We’ve talked about these optimizations and efficiency-led capacity increases in a variety of public forums.”

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