Gov. Tim Walz's administration is appealing the approval for the controversial Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline, the latest action in a years-long process.
The Department of Commerce announced Wednesday that it had filed an appeal of an earlier approval of the pipeline replacement, which runs through northern Minnesota.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission had previously issued the project a certificate of need in May, but the appeal claims this approval didn’t take into consideration a possible drop in oil demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.
The appeal also claims Enbridge unlawfully shifted the responsibility of showing "demand for product transmitted by Line 3 would decrease during the forecast period” away from itself and onto state agencies.
The action was quick to receive pushback from state GOP leadership. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said the decision would hinder job creation.
“Instead of helping the one in four Minnesotans unemployed along the Line 3 route, the Governor has once again chosen to obstruct and delay this critical project and the thousands of jobs it would bring to Northern Minnesota,” Daudt said in a statement. “This is the most scrutinized project in Minnesota history, it’s been approved by his own appointees on the Public Utilities Commission but the governor will once again be wasting taxpayer resources in an attempt to stop this project.”
Minnesota’s Infrastructure Union, LIUNA, also expressed disappointment in the decision.
“We are frustrated that after six years of process, we are wasting more time to rehash the same tired arguments while working families struggle to get by,” said LIUNA President Joel Smith in a statement.
But Line 3 has also received pushback from environmental groups and Native American tribal members.
According to MPR, Minnesota Ojibwe tribes have fought the pipeline’s approval since the beginning of the process. Tribal members protested outside of Walz’s residence in St. Paul Tuesday ahead of the appeal decision.
Several conservation and indigenous groups also filed a legal challenge against the PUC decision ahead of Walz's announcement.