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Enbridge pipeline gets favorable PUC vote

DULUTH -- Enbridge Energy Partners received mostly welcome news Tuesday from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

Commissioners unani-mously voted in support of certifying the need for a sec-tion of oil pipeline the company plans to build between Clear-brook and Superior, Wis. The 1,000-mile Alberta Clipper Pipeline would carry crude oil and bitumen extracted from tar-sands deposits and trans-ported to a hub in Hardisty, Alberta, Canada.

The Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy has publicly opposed the project, claiming that the Canadian oil operations are too energy-intensive and are inconsistent with the state's professed energy efficiency goals.

Nevertheless, the PUC also approved a route for the new pipeline with one exception.

Enbridge initially proposed to cut through a portion of the Fond du Lac Reservation, but the company has not been successful in negotiating a price to pay the reservation for a few miles of easement rights. Alternatively, Enbridge had proposed routing the pipeline completely around the reservation -- a move that would lengthen the pipeline by about 5 miles -- but the commission ordered the company to re-sume negotiations with tribal officials and report back on the progress in 30 days.

If all goes according to plan, Enbridge aims to have the pipeline operational by mid-2010.