Minnesota Court of Appeals issues decision requiring further review of Enbridge’s pipeline project
Last year the Public Utilities Commission, a division of Minnesota’s Department of Commerce,
completed its final environmental review of Enbridge Energy’s $2.6 billion-dollar pipeline replacement
project. However, a decision this week from the Minnesota Court of Appeals requires further review of
The current pipeline was built in the 1960s and runs at only about half of its original capacity. Enbridge’s
project calls for a replacement pipeline that will run across a portion of North Dakota, northern
Minnesota, and Wisconsin. The Wisconsin portion of the pipeline, consisting of approximately 14 miles,
was completed in 2018.
After the Public Utilities Commission’s approval in June 2018, several environmental and tribal groups
appealed. Among other things, groups are concerned that Enbridge’s project risks oil spills into the
Mississippi River and Lake Superior.
In a 2-1 decision, the Minnesota Court of Appeals held that the project requires further review because the
environmental impact statement doesn’t address the potential for oil spills into Lake Superior.
Enbridge, a company based in Calgary, stated that the project’s environmental review was the most
extensive study of a pipeline project in Minnesota’s history. While the company originally hoped to have
the new pipeline running in the second half of 2020, plans may need to be adjusted based on the court’s
recent decision. Enbridge said it will be working with state regulators to determine its next steps.
Moreover, Honor the Earth, an environmental group that is a party in the case, is still considering
appealing arguments that the court rejected. In particular, the group may appeal the court’s decision that
state law does not require completion of a survey on the potential impacts on tribal historical and cultural
resources as part of the environmental review. Thus, the appeals process may not even be over for