ST. PAUL -- Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said Enbridge Energy's goal of getting work started on the Line 3 oil pipeline project before year's end was aggressive and optimistic.
The comment came Monday, March 4, days after the energy company announced it would delay construction on the project by a year. Enbridge officials had hoped to get the project started before the end of the year. But on Friday, March 1, officials announced the company would postpone the proposed start date to late 2020 due to holdups in state and local permitting.
Walz made the assessment just after he announced he would aim to get the state to 100 percent clean energy by 2050. Part of that initiative would require energy companies to transition replacement or new power generation projects to fossil-free energy sources unless those prove to be unreliable or unaffordable.
The Democratic-Farmer-Labor governor said the state's "goalposts" for approving a project are based on science and protection of natural resources and they can't be moved.
“Our process has not changed, our process was clear what it would take to go through the MPCA process, the DNR process and then the Corps of Engineers with the water crossing permit that needed to be in there,” Walz told reporters. “I think Enbridge had a fairly aggressive optimistic timeline in place."
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in 2018 unanimously approved the Line 3 replacement project. It was a key step for the company, but additional permitting requirements remain before Enbridge can break ground in Minnesota.
Enbridge officials last week said they expect Minnesota’s permits will be finalized in November and that federal permits will wrap up 30 to 60 days after that.
"We now have a firm schedule from the state on the timing of the remaining permits for our Line 3 replacement project," Enbridge CEO Al Monaco said in a news release last week.