ST. PAUL, Minn (AP) — Two Native American tribes in northern Minnesota are asking state regulators to stop the imminent construction of Enbridge Energy’s Line 3 crude oil pipeline replacement because it increases the risk of coronavirus infections spreading.
The Red Lake and White Earth Bands of Chippewa filed a motion with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission late Wednesday, arguing the $2.6 billion project would put locals at risk to coronavirus infections as workers move into the area.
The bands, along with other pipeline opponents, are also suing and protesting to try to block the project, and an appeal by the state Commerce Department is pending. They want the PUC to halt the project while that legal challenge plays out.
The pipeline project took a step forward on Monday after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers approved the final federal permit needed. The Public Utilities Commission has already approved the project several times, but still needs to give construction a final green light.
Enbridge says the pipeline replacement will provide a safer way to transport the oil to Midwest refineries while creating 4,200 construction jobs and generating millions of dollars in local spending and tax revenues.