The Walz administration will continue an appeal started by his predecessor to block the replacement of an Enbridge oil pipeline through northern Minnesota.
The Canadian company was granted a certificate of need by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission last June to replace its deteriorating 282-mile pipeline with a new, 350-mile pipeline known as "Line 3," which would carry oil from Canadian tar sands to a transmission station in Superior, Wisconsin.
But on Tuesday, the Minnesota Department of Commerce – at the direction of Gov. Tim Walz – has confirmed it will continue the appeal that was started by former Gov. Mark Dayton, asking the PUC to reconsider its approval.
"When it comes to any project that impacts our environment and our economy, we must follow the process, the law, and the science," said Gov. Walz. “The Dayton Administration’s appeal of the PUC's decision is now a part of this process.
"By continuing that process, our Administration will raise the Department of Commerce’s concerns to the court in hopes of gaining further clarity for all involved. As I often say, projects like these don’t only need a building permit to go forward, they also need a social permit. Our Administration has met with groups on all sides of this issue, and Minnesotans deserve clarity."
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.
The decision to continue the appeal has been decried by Minnesota Republicans, with House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt accusing Gov. Walz of standing on the side "of extreme environmentalists who occupy his office, shut down meetings, and commit felonies because they refuse to accept that pipelines are the safest way to transport oil."
He said the governor is "throwing up unnecessary roadblocks" that delay jobs for Minnesota construction workers, and tax revenue for northern Minnesota communities.
Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan however said that the appeal is designed to "ensure that Minnesota's permitting process is clear, thorough and fair."
According to the Star Tribune, the Commerce Department's appeal stated that the long-term oil demand forecast filed by Enbridge was "inadequate," and as such the PUC had made an error in granting the approval.