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Minnesota Court Quashes Permits On Enbridge Oil Pipeline

Sandpiper Line Would Stretch From North Dakota To Superior

Environmental Defence Canada (CC-BY-NC)

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has reversed the state’s decision to sign off on a construction permit for a pipeline project that’s expected to cross through Wisconsin.

The court ruled the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission must complete an environmental impact statement for Enbridge Energy’s $2.6 billion Sandpiper pipeline before determining the need for the project. The commission had approved a so-called “certificate of need” for the pipeline in June.

The Sandpiper would carry around 600,000 barrels per day from North Dakota’s Bakken oil fields to Superior.

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Enbridge Energy spokeswoman Lorraine Little said in a prepared statement the state had previously indicated there is ample environmental review throughout the state’s permitting process.

“We stand behind the work of the Department of Commerce in its environmental review of the Sandpiper Pipeline Project. We support the Public Utilities Commission’s decision to unanimously issue a Certificate of Need,” said Little. “We stand with our project supporters — the workers, counties, laborers, and landowners and their surrounding communities that have steadfastly supported this project. We will evaluate our options for next steps with this important project.”

Little said they’re still examining what the decision will mean for the timeline of the project. Enbridge has argued that transporting oil through its 610-mile Sandpiper line is safer than moving it by rail.

The groups Friends of the Headwaters and Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy filed suit last year, requesting a full environmental impact statement before the state takes action on the project. The state planned to do an environmental study as part of deciding the pipeline’s final route.

Enbridge plans to build a 14-mile segment of the Sandpiper line in Wisconsin. An environmental impact statement will be needed for the project as part of Wisconsin’s permitting process.

Enbridge hopes to have the pipeline in service by 2017.

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