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Another Enbridge pipeline proposed: Proposal would replace line from Canada to Wisconsin

Reuters Photo Enbridge President and CEO Al Monaco addresses shareholders during the company’s annual general meeting in Calgary, Alberta, on May 8.

DULUTH, Minn. — Enbridge Energy said Tuesday it plans to build yet another new oil pipeline through Minnesota, on top of two expansion projects already in the works.

Enbridge said it would end service of its aged Line No. 3 from Alberta to Superior and replace it with a larger capacity line to bring northwestern Canadian oil into the U.S.

The proposal is in addition to the proposed expansion of the Alberta Clipper line from Canada and the all-new Sandpiper line from North Dakota to Superior, Wis., as Enbridge moves to build more pipeline capacity at a dizzying pace to keep up with the huge volume of oil now coming out of western North America.

The company hopes to have the $7 billion, 1,031-mile new Line 3 Replacement project moving oil by late 2017, said Enbridge spokeswoman Lorraine Little.

The current Line 3 is 46 years old and has been undergoing almost contestant maintenance. Its original capacity was 750,000 barrels per day but has been reduced to 410,000 barrels per day because of restrictions on the pressure in the pipe, Little said.

The new line would allow the full 750,000-barrel capacity, Little said, for an increase of 340,000 barrels per day of Canadian crude entering the U.S. — or about 14.3 million additional gallons per day.

“There comes a point where it makes sense to entirely replace the pipe than to keep making repairs,” Little added.

The company will need approval from the U.S. State Department — called a presidential permit — and approval of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, among other agencies, before work can begin on the new line.

The Line 3 Replacement will likely follow the existing route from northern Alberta to Clearbrook, Minn., Little said, but then could follow either the Alberta Clipper or old Line 3 route to Superior or move south and follow the route where Enbridge wants to build the new Sandpiper line.

“The route options still haven’t’ been determined. We have had discussions with the Department of State, but we have not applied for any permits as of this point. We’re just announcing this,” she said.

It was immediately noticed by some environmental groups that the new Line 3 would allow for increased shipment of so-called tar sands crude oil from northern Canada into the U.S. — the same substance proposed to move on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that many U.S. groups have urged President Barack Obama to halt.

The same groups already are rallying to stop what they are calling an Enbridge expansion, not simply a replacement.

“Enbridge’s plans to increase capacity on another pipeline in the Great Lakes basin is both absurd and insulting. Enbridge needs to call this project what it is … another tar sands pipeline expansion and not a replacement,” Beth Wallace of the National Wildlife Federation said in a statement.

Doug Hayes, Sierra Club staff attorney, said pumping more tar sands crude oil will only add to the carbon dioxide buildup that’s causing global climate change.