Relocating Sandpiper



 Enbridge is requesting that the Public Utilities Commission (“PUC”) grant it a Certificate of Need (“CN”) and a Route Permit (“RP”) to replace the portion of its  existing Line 3 pipeline from the ND/MN border through Clearbook, MN to Superior, WI.  The existing Line 3 would be abandoned in place because of its deteriorating condition.  The replacement Line 3 from Clearbrook to Superior is proposed to be located in the same corridor Enbridge proposed for the Sandpiper pipeline.

Line 3 will carry diluted bitumen or tar sands oil which is known as “dilbit.” Dilbit is especially troublesome because it sinks to the bottom, is very difficult and many times impossible to remove and does not quickly decompose.   Enbridge’s preferred route for a portion of its proposed new Line 3 goes through and crosses highly sensitive, water-rich environmental areas and natural resources, including the Mississippi River, other rivers ( including Straight River), streams (including Hay Creek), lakes, wetlands, aquifers (including in Park Rapids) and wild rice lakes.

A spill or leak from the proposed new Line 3 could have major adverse impacts not only on our environmental areas and natural resources we all enjoy, but also lake property values, negative health impacts, tourism, businesses, resorts and other local economies.


         On September 15, 2015 the Minnesota Court of Appeals agreed with Friends of the Headwaters (“FOH”) that an Environmental Impact Statement (“EIS”) was required before the PUC could determine whether or not to grant a CN and RP for a large crude oil pipeline such as the Sandpiper and the replacement of Line 3.  That decision is a landmark decision for Minnesota. It ordered the first state EIS on a large crude oil pipeline in Minnesota history   In response to that decision, Enbridge withdrew its Application to build the Sandpiper pipeline on October 28, 2016.

Consistent with the requirement of an EIS for the proposed replacement Line 3 the Department of Commerce (“DOC”) has now submitted to the parties, agencies and the public its proposed final draft of the EIS (“FEIS”) after taking into consideration  comments from the parties, agencies and the public on its draft EIS.  Everyone has until September 25, 2017 to submit their written comments on the FEIS.


         The balance of the PUC process includes the following activities on the indicated dates which are subject to change.  The process provides many opportunities for the public to be involved and influence the PUC’s decision.

11/2                 Final date for written comments on the FEIS.

11/23                Last day for filing of testimony by the parties.

9/25-10/26       10 Public Hearings for the public comment regarding the CN and RP

11/1                   Filing of the Report and Recommendation by the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”) to the PUC on the “Adequacy” of the FEIS.   The law requires that the PUC determine that the FEIS is Adequate as required under the law before it can be admitted as evidence and relied on in this matter.

11/1-3- 11/6-10    Contested Evidentiary Hearing before the ALJ on the request for a CN and RP

11/21                 Final date for the parties, agencies and public to file exceptions to the ALJ’s Adequacy Report

11/22                 Public Comment Period on Evidentiary Hearing

11/30-  12/11     PUC Hearing during this period to determine the if the FEIS is Adequate.  Friends of the Headwaters (“FOH”) is contesting this schedule because the Adequacy of the FEIS will not have been determined until after the parties, agencies and the public have taken actions involving the FEIS. FOH argues that any actions taken that involve the FEIS, such as the parties filed testimony, the Public Hearings, the Evidentiary Hearing and the 11/22 Public Comment Period must be based on an EIS that has been determined to be Adequate by the PUC.

12/11-1/15/18       Parties Briefs on CN and RP Filed

2/28/18                ALJ Findings of Facts, Conclusions of Law and Recommendations regarding the CN and RP.

April 30, 2018   Scheduled date for a PUC public hearing at which it will decide whether or not to grant Enbridge a Certificate of Need and a Route Permit for Line 3.


         For more information go to “”

         Without the work of Friends of the Headwaters and the public involvement oil would be pumping by now through the Sandpiper line and probably Line 3 as well.

         Friends of the Headwaters is trying to relocate Line 3 to an alternative route away from our water-rich environmental areas and natural resources.  It is not opposed to pipelines. 

         In order for FOH to be successful relocating Line 3, those that support it must take advantage of the public opportunities to get involved in the above process.

Chuck Diessner

August 26, 2017