Description: Challenge to Minnesota Public Utilities Commission authorization of Line 3 pipeline project.
Friends of the Headwaters v. Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (In re Enbridge Energy, LP)
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 07/14/2021 Petition for Review Download Petition for review of Court of Appeals decision filed by Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians et al. 06/14/2021 Opinion Download Minnesota Public Utilities Commission decisions affirmed. Minnesota Court of Appeals Upheld State Approvals for Enbridge Crude Oil Replacement Pipeline. The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s determination that a revised final environmental impact statement (EIS) for the Line 3 replacement crude oil pipeline was adequate, as well as the Commission’s decisions to issue a certificate of need and a routing permit for the project. The court concluded that it must defer to the Commission’s determination that Enbridge Energy, Limited Partnership demonstrated need for a replacement pipeline because the Commission’s decision was “adequately explained and reasonable, based on the record.” It noted that the Commission “balanced a plethora of factors and criteria … against the backdrop of an existing, deteriorating pipeline” and “based upon a public record developed over multiple years with extraordinary public participation.” Regarding the Commission’s consideration of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change as part of its assessment of the project’s relationship to overall state energy needs, the court rejected the contention that it was arbitrary and capricious not to attach a dollar figure to greenhouse gas emissions from the project. The court found that the Commission adequately explained its rationale for rejecting the dollar figure adopted by the administrative law judge. The court also said it was not arbitrary and capricious for the Commission to reason that the replacement project was not expected to increase crude oil demand. The court also found that the Commission addressed the court’s earlier concern that the EIS had not adequately addressed the impact of an oil spill on Lake Superior and its watershed. In addition, the court found that the selection of a pipeline route was reasonable and “based upon respect for tribal sovereignty, while minimizing environmental impacts.” One judge dissented, writing that the certificate of need was unsupported by substantial evidence and based on erroneous interpretations of the governing statute. He agreed with relators that the Commission acted arbitrarily and capriciously by failing to consider the project’s lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions. 02/02/2021 Order Download Motions for a stay denied. Minnesota Court Declined to Stop Construction of Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline. The Minnesota Court of Appeals denied motions to stay the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s decisions authorizing Enbridge Energy, LP’s Line 3 pipeline replacement project. The court agreed that one of the movants—Friends of the Headwaters—was precluded from seeking a stay because it had not sought a stay from the Commission. On the merits of the stay motion by the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians and White Earth Band of Ojibwe, the court found that the Commission’s denial of a stay was not an abuse of discretion. The court was not persuaded that completion of construction of the pipeline would moot the appeals and concluded both that the Commission was not required to consider whether the appeal raised substantial issues and also that it was not clear that the appeals raised substantial questions that would override other factors to require a stay. 12/30/2020 Memorandum Download Memorandum of relator Friends of the Headwaters in support of motion to stay construction pending appeal. 12/30/2020 Motion Download Motion filed by relator Friends of the Headwaters for stay of construction pending appeal. 08/18/2020 Petition for Writ of Certiorari Download Petition for writ of certiorari filed. 08/18/2020 Statement Download Statement of the case filed by petitioners.
Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians v. Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (In re Enbridge Energy, LP)
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 12/29/2020 Brief Download Brief filed in support of motion for stay pending appeal of relators Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians and White Earth Band of Ojibwe. 12/29/2020 Motion Download Motion for stay pending appeal filed by relators Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians and White Earth Band of Ojibwe. 08/18/2020 Petition for Writ of Certiorari Download Petition for writ of certiorari filed. The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, Honor the Earth, and Sierra Club filed petition in the Minnesota Court of Appeals challenging the decisions by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission authorizing the Line 3 project. Issues to be raised in this proceeding include the petitioners’ contention that the PUC “decided to entirely disregard most of the climate change impacts of the Project,” contrary to its obligations to consider effects on Minnesota’s natural and socioeconomic environment and to consider climate change’s economic and environmental costs on people within Minnesota, “including the Anishinaabe peoples who claim a right to continue to live on their lands in accordance with their beliefs and culture, which is their human and legal right to do.” 08/18/2020 Statement Download Statement of the case filed by petitioners.