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Line 3 pipeline opponents aim to keep the pressure on Walz administration

Along with the petitions, they came with a message for Gov. Tim Walz: stop the pipeline construction project.

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Dozens of protesters rallied at the Minnesota Capitol Thursday, June 6, 2019, to oppose the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline. Dana Ferguson / Forum News Service

ST. PAUL — Dozens of protesters rallied at the Capitol Thursday, June 6, before delivering to the Walz administration petitions signed by 17,000 people opposed to the construction of the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline.

Along with the petitions, they came with a message for Gov. Tim Walz: do what you need to do to stop the pipeline construction project.

The push comes days after the Minnesota Court of Appeals determined the environmental review of the Line 3 oil pipeline was “inadequate” because it did not consider the effects of an oil spill in Lake Superior’s watershed. Also on Monday, three protesters were arrested in Hubbard County after they chained themselves to construction equipment to be used to build an electric transmission line that could power an unbuilt pipeline pump station.

“Some of us are getting impatient, that’s the reality of the situation,” demonstrator Ethan Nuss said. “This administration has a choice, participate with us in this process, take strong executive action to have the governor direct his agencies to deny these permits, to use the court system and put a stay on construction ... do the right thing."

Nuss and others said they hoped the state could avoid clashes over the pipeline construction project like those surrounding the Dakota Access pipeline in North Dakota.

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A representative from Walz's office fielded the frustrations of more than a dozen of the demonstrators on Thursday. And in a statement, Walz said he wanted to hear from people across the state.

spokespeople for the governor didn't immediately comment about the meeting with pipeline opponents.

Walz’s administration has filed another appeal of the project that claims the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission erred granting Enbridge a certificate of need because the company did not present a demand forecast.

Once built, the new Line 3 pipeline would replace Enbridge's existing 50-year-old Line 3 and carry 760,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta to the Enbridge terminal in Superior. Supporters say the new line is safer for transporting oil than the existing line.

"Replacing an aging pipeline with a new pipe made of thicker steel and more advanced coatings will protect our communities and environment for generations to come," Enbridge spokesperson Juli Kellner said.

Supporters of the pipeline construction project reiterated their efforts to get work started on the pipeline and raised concerns about the rally in opposition coming the same day as the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the day the Allies invaded Western Europe during World War II.

“It’s sad to see them globbing onto a day like today, where it’s historically a day of unity,” Todd Rothe, a member of Minnesotans for Line 3, said.

The permitting process for the project will likely finish in November and Enbridge has said it plans to have the pipeline completed in 2020.

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