ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Enbridge Energy is delaying by a year the start of service for its planned Line 3 replacement oil pipeline through northern Minnesota.
The Canadian-based company said Friday it now expects the new pipeline to go into service in the second half of 2020. Enbridge officials had hoped to put the pipeline into service in the second half of 2019.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz meanwhile said recently that his administration will keep pursuing an appeal of an independent regulatory commission’s approval of Enbridge’s plan.
The state Public Utilities approved the project last summer. But the Minnesota Department of Commerce argued that Enbridge had failed to provide legally adequate long-range demand forecasts to establish the need for the project.
Enbridge wants to replace Line 3 because it has become increasingly prone to cracking and corrosion. Native American and environmental activists argue the project presents a risk of spills occurring in pristine areas in northern Minnesota, including places where American Indians harvest wild rice considered sacred and central to their culture, and that the Canadian tar-sands oil the line would carry would accelerate climate change.
According to the permitting timeline that Minnesota presented to Enbridge on Friday, the Calgary, Alberta-based company said certifications for all the remaining state permits needed to build Line 3 would be provided by this November. Enbridge said it expects the remaining federal permits to be completed between 30 and 60 days after that.
“We now have a firm schedule from the State on the timing of the remaining permits for our Line 3 Replacement project,” Enbridge president and CEO Al Monaco said in a news release. “We support a robust and transparent permitting process that includes opportunity for public input. We’ll continue to work closely with State officials during this process.”
Rachel Rye Butler of Greenpeace USA said the project “has been flawed from the start.”
“Enbridge has been busy assuring investors the Line 3 pipeline expansion would be in service by November 2019, and it is just now starting to admit that public opposition has made this timeline ridiculous,” she said in a statement.
Enbridge says the replacement will ensure reliable deliveries of Canadian crude to Midwest refineries. It’s already in the midst of replacing the Canadian segments and is running a short segment in Wisconsin that ends at its terminal in Superior.