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Enbridge Energy's much-criticized Line 3 pipeline is "substantially complete," and it will begin service on Friday. 

The Canadian oil company announced Wednesday that oil will start flowing through the 1,097-mile pipeline on Oct. 1, much to the dismay of environmental activists and Indigenous tribes who have fought hard to prevent the pipeline replacement project from happening, citing environmental concerns. 

Related [Aug. 11]: MPCA: 28 drilling fluid releases during Line 3 construction, including into wetlands

Related [Sept. 16]: Minnesota DNR orders Enbridge to pay $3.32M over Line 3 environmental violations

The pipeline will carry millions of gallons of crude oil daily from the tar fields in Canada to Superior, Wisconsin, via 337 miles of pipeline in northern Minnesota. 

The section in Minnesota was the last to be completed. Construction began last December after a years-long review and permitting process.

The Line 3 project has proved a controversial one, dividing those who wanted the jobs boost that such a construction project would bring (it employed more than 4,000 people) – backed by many state Republicans – with those who fear the potential environmental risk of a pipeline cutting through areas of natural beauty and watersheds as well as those who seek a shift away from fossil fuels to reduce the impacts of climate change.

In addition to environmentalists, Indigenous tribes fought the pipeline, citing the damage the pipeline could do to northern Minnesota waters, including the Mississippi River headwaters, where Native Americans harvest wild rice and hold treaty rights. 

The project faced fierce opposition in court (one case is still pending in federal court) and on the ground. More than 900 activists were arrested or cited as they protested the construction of the pipeline over the past several months, the Sierra Club said Wednesday. And activists continue to call on President Joe Biden and Gov. Tim Walz to put a stop to Line 3.

Enbridge continues to stress the Line 3 pipeline is needed and is safe for the environment. Al Monaco, Enbridge's president and CEO, said in a news release Wednesday the pipeline is about "modernizing our system and improving safety and reliability for the benefit of communities, the environment and our customers."

Enbridge did not mention in its announcement the several environmental incidents that occurred during construction in Minnesota. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has fined Enbridge $3.32 million over an environmental violation related to the construction of the pipeline. And there were 28 drilling fluid releases, including into wetlands, which the MPCA is still investigating.

In response to the news that the Line 3 pipeline is complete, Sierra Club North Star Chapter Director Margaret Levin said in a statement:

“This is not the outcome we hoped for, but the fight to stop Line 3 has always been a fight for climate justice and a future free from fossil fuels, and that fight will not stop just because Enbridge has succeeded in building this pipeline. Our movement is powerful, and we are not going anywhere. We will keep pushing forward — demanding that our elected leaders live up to their promises and lifting our voices for healthy and safe communities and climate justice.” 

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