ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission reached their final step Tuesday with a project proposal involving the replacement of a crude oil pipeline in northern Minnesota.
Enbridge Energy is the Canadian-based company behind it. It’s an issue continuing to cause contention across the state.
The commission’s first item to approve was the conditions put on the project’s Certificate of Need.
“The modifications that were made to the certificate of need and the route permit are truly going to benefit Minnesota,” Paul Eberth, Enbridge Energy Line 3 project director, said. “Provide safer transportation of oil in Minnesota, and benefit the communities where the project would operate.”
As soon as a decision was made, people against the project walked out.
“The settlements and these substantial modifications are what helped me reach the conclusion that the overall project was in the state's interest,” Commissioner Kate Sieben said. “It's better to replace a more than 50 year old pipe with one that is safer.”
The meeting continued with reviewing Enbridge Energy’s plan to create $100 million in economic opportunities for tribal members and businesses on the Line 3 replacement project.
Supporters see the need both environmentally and economically.
“There's not a big surplus of high quality, blue-collared jobs,” Kevin Pranis, of Liuna Minnesota, said. “So for people who get in on this project, whether they're existing construction workers or whether they want to start a career, a kind of project like this is a great way to get a start.”
Outside of the building is a much different thought process.
Giiwedinookwe is a native who lives in northern Minnesota right where the pipeline runs, and isn’t afraid to raise her voice.
"This a bad decision," she said. "This is a bad thing all the way around you know. The world is suffering from these corporations and they need to be stopped."
A new report shows the Canadian-based company spent $11 million last year on lobbying.
"Money should not be buying a decision, especially money by a foreign corporation," Jaci Christenson, another protestor, said.
The next step is the Court of Appeals process.
Those with Enbridge Energy tell KIMT they have to go through the environmental permitting process. If everything goes through, they expect construction on the pipeline to start next winter.
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