By STEVE KARNOWSKI
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A revised environmental review released by a state agency Monday found no serious threat to Lake Superior if crude oil ever leaked from a new pipeline meant to replace Enbridge Energy’s aging Line 3 across northern Minnesota.
State regulators called for the revision after the Minnesota Court of Appeals in June declared that an earlier review, issued in February 2018, was inadequate because it had failed to specifically discuss the possible effects of a spill into the Lake Superior watershed.
Line 3 carries Canadian crude from Alberta and clips a corner of North Dakota on its way across Minnesota to Enbridge’s terminal in Superior, Wisconsin. The replacement would double the capacity of the existing line, which was built in the 1960s and is increasingly subject to cracking and corrosion. Environmental and tribal groups have been fighting the project because of the possibility of spills in the Mississippi River headwaters region — where much wild rice is grown— and other pristine waters, and because the oil would contribute to climate change.
The revision issued by the state Department of Commerce provided a model of the possible effects of a spill where the replacement pipeline would cross Little Otter Creek. The department said a spill there would be more likely than one at other sites to flow downstream into Lake Superior.
A public comment period on the revision runs through Jan. 16.
Officials with Enbridge, based in Calgary, Alberta, welcomed the report. They told reporters that if the Public Utilities Commission deems the revision adequate, they hope to start the construction of the Minnesota and North Dakota segments of the replacement pipeline in mid-2020. Construction would then take nine to 11 months. The Canadian and Wisconsin segments are already in service.