The Minnesota Court of Appeals on Monday affirmed a state regulator’s decision that there is sufficient oil demand for Enbridge Inc to justify the replacement of its Line 3 pipeline.
The decision marks another hurdle cleared for the Canadian pipeline company’s efforts to replace an aging pipeline that carries Alberta oil sands crude through the state.
Line 3, which entered service in 1968, ships crude from Alberta to U.S. Midwest refiners, and carries less oil than it was designed for because of age and corrosion. Replacing the pipeline would allow Enbridge to roughly double its capacity to 760,000 barrels per day.
The pipeline has run into opposition from environmental activists and indigenous groups who say they fear spills will mar wetlands and other sensitive areas from a conduit that isn’t needed.
In response to a legal challenge by environmental and tribal groups, the court affirmed the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s decision to grant Enbridge a key permit for the project.
“While reasonable minds may differ on the central question of need for replacement Line 3, substantial evidence supports the commission’s decision to issue a certificate of need,” the court said in a written judgment.