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Tar Sands Pipeline “Line 3” Faces Ongoing Opposition Despite PUC Rubber Stamp

A new analysis released last week shows that building a controversial tar sands pipeline would create climate pollution vastly outweighing planned reductions in Minnesota’s emissions through initiatives like 100% clean energy and clean car standards.

Minnesota activists opposed to Line 3 committed to continued opposition to the controversial tar sands pipeline despite a ruling from the Public Utilities Commission today approving the certificate of need for the project.

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If built, Line 3 would cross 211 bodies of water, including lakes, wetlands, and rivers, endangering freshwater resources and the pristine lake country of northern Minnesota where Native Americans harvest wild rice and hold treaty rights. A new analysis released last week shows that building the pipeline would also create climate pollution vastly outweighing planned reductions in Minnesota’s emissions through initiatives like 100% clean energy and clean car standards.

Numerous hurdles remain before Enbridge can begin construction of Line 3. The company has not received key water crossing permits for the pipeline, and groups plan to pursue all legal avenues to challenge the PUC’s approval.

“The PUC has repeatedly ignored unacceptable risks to Minnesota’s clean water and to the communities that would be directly affected by Line 3,” said Margaret Levin, director of the Sierra Club North Star Chapter. “Now more than ever it is time for Governor Walz to lead — to defend Indigenous rights and our climate future, and ensure that this dirty tar sands pipeline is never built. The Sierra Club will continue to fight alongside our allies, including in the courts.”

“Line 3 in Minnesota and the proposed oilsands Teck mine in Alberta reflect the craziness of Canada and the US at the end of the fossil fuel era. Big companies like Enbridge are proposing projects which are not sustainable, and the big new tar sands projects which would fill this line with oil are being closed down,” said Winona LaDuke, Executive Director and co-founder of Honor the Earth. “That’s the reality now at this time. Minnesota must stand for the water and the people.”

“It is unfortunate that the PUC, which was created to defend the public interest, has failed to understand – and act to protect the public from – the tremendous costs burdens this pipeline will put on Minnesotans for generations,” said Steve Morse, Executive Director of the Minnesota Environmental Partnership. “Not only will we bear the consequences of an accelerating climate crisis on our everyday lives, we will also be paying Enbridge for their spending on Line 3 through mandatory cost recovery. Minnesotans will effectively be paying to accelerate the climate crisis. The time for new fossil fuel investment is over, but too many of our public decision makers are still looking backwards.”

“As expected, the Public Utilities Commission continues to deny both science and the law when it comes to pipelines,” said Andy Pearson, Midwest Tar Sands Coordinator with MN350. “Let’s be clear: approving a tar sands pipeline with a climate change impact greater than Minnesota’s entire economy is not only immoral, it violates the letter and the spirit of the Certificate of Need law. Approving this pipeline is climate change denial. On Friday, the PUC heard from a more-than-overflow crowd with more than three quarters of testifiers opposed to the project. The PUC has chosen to stand for climate chaos, but Gov. Walz and Minnesota’s state agencies still have opportunities to follow the science and make sure Line 3 is not built.”


About the Sierra Club: The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3.8 million members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person’s right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit

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