The long-awaited decision from the Minnesota Court of Appeals, in which the Red Lake and White Earth Nations are among the appellants, has come out, ruling in the Line 3 pipeline’s favor.
The state appeals court was tasked with determining if the Public Utilities Commission was correct in issuing a certificate of need for the pipeline.
The PUC did determine that the line was necessary, “leaning heavily on the comparative risks of continuing to operate the existing Line 3.”
“The commission addressed our earlier concern regarding the failure, in its environmental review, to consider the impact of an oil spill on the Lake Superior watershed. And, while reasonable minds may differ on the central question of the need for replacement Line 3, substantial evidence supports the commission’s decision to issue a certificate of need,” wrote Judge Lucinda Jesson.
“Finally, the commission reasonably selected a route for the replacement pipeline based upon respect for tribal sovereignty, while minimizing environmental impacts.”
Opponents of the pipeline say the pipeline project violates three treaties, which grant the Ojibwe people fishing, hunting, and gathering rights on lands ceded to the United States.
The existing Line 3 was originally built in the 1960s, and the new line diverges from the existing route after the Clearbrook terminal.
That line had two spills in Minnesota, most notably in Grand Rapids in 1991, and in Cohasset in 2002.
The new pipeline will transport 760,000 barrels of crude oil each day and cross into the United States from North Dakota, across more than 300 miles of Minnesota, before it reaches its destination in Superior, Wisconsin.
Enbridge began the permitting process to replace Line 3 in 2014.