Who made the decision to replace Line 3, and when did it happen?
Several different parties have recommended replacing Line 3. This includes the United States Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, an administrative law judge, as well as Enbridge.
Safe and reliable operations have always been the foundation of Enbridge’s business, and maintaining pipeline integrity is essential to continued safe and reliable operations. As part of Enbridge’s maintenance program they gathered, and continue to gather extensive integrity data on Line 3. Since 2008, Enbridge has safely operated and maintained Line 3 by implementing voluntary pressure restrictions reducing the average annual capacity of deliveries from 760,000 barrels per day (bpd) to 390,000 bpd. This means the pipeline is only able to carry about half as much oil as it was originally designed to.
As a result of the integrity maintenance program, Enbridge concluded that replacement is the best alternative to the required ongoing and increasing maintenance activities for this important part of the region’s energy. Replacing the line that was built in the late 1960s with a new, modern pipe will increase safety and capacity.
In April of 2015, Enbridge submitted their application for replacement of Line 3 to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission as part of its integrity and maintenance driven program. Since that time the project has undergone the most extensive Environmental Impact Study in Minnesota history related to pipeline projects. State agency staff spent 16 months drafting a 5,000-page analysis developed in accordance with the law. Over 65 public meetings were held, and thousands of public comments were received into the public record. In 2017, an administrative law judge concluded that from an environmental perspective, replacing Line 3 is superior to maintaining the existing line.
In 2016, Enbridge entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency, both led by Obama appointees at the time. As part of the agreement, the U.S. Government required Enbridge to replace its 1960s era Line 3 pipeline.
On June 28, 2018, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved the Certificate of Need and approved the Route Permit in a 3-2 decision.