- After six years of regulatory reviews, lawsuits and pushback by environmental groups, Enbridge’s $2.6 billion pipeline replacement project in northern Minnesota is set to begin construction after receiving all permits and approvals, the Star Tribune reported.
- The 340-mile-long Line 3 project cleared its last regulatory hurdle Monday when the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency approved its construction stormwater permit.
- Calgary, Canada-based Enbridge estimates that the project will generate 4,200 union construction jobs. Late last year, the energy company and two of the project’s construction contractors, Precision Pipeline and the Michels Corp., entered a project labor agreement with the United Association of Plumber and Pipefitters, the International Union of Operating Engineers, the Teamsters International and the Laborers International Union of North America.
Union leaders lauded the news, saying it is well timed to provide good construction jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic and related unemployment.
"Thousands of our friends and neighbors across Minnesota look forward to using their construction skills to protect our environment and communities by replacing an existing deteriorating pipeline,” Joel Smith, state president of Laborers' International Union of North America, told the Star Tribune.
Although Enbridge did not give a start date, Smith said he expects crews to begin working in the coming days. The project is due to be complete before the end of next year.
Environmental groups and Native American bands have said the pipeline — which follows a largely new route across Minnesota — will open waterways to the prospect of oil spills, as well as exacerbate climate change by allowing more oil production, according to the Star Tribune.
Other local groups have voiced concern that the huge project could bring a heightened risk of COVID-19 to the communities along the route. Executive Vice President and President of Liquid Pipelines Vern Yu said in a press statement Enbridge will implement a strict COVID-19 management plan.
"Safety remains our top priority," Yu said.
On other recent energy projects, Enbridge has instituted COVID-19 testing and screening protocols for workers, including repeated testing and daily health and temperature screenings, as well as required practices like wearing masks, observing strict physical distancing and regularly sanitizing work areas.