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Administration approves Alberta Clipper pipeline crossing from Canada

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration has approved a crude oil pipeline crossing from Canada into northeastern North Dakota that will send oil across northern Minnesota.

The Monday, Oct. 16, announcement allows Canada-based Enbridge to pump oil across the border at maximum capacity of the Alberta Clipper pipeline, also known as Line 67.

The 1,112-mile pipeline has been operating, but since 2010, but Enbridge has used another pipeline to move oil at a lower rate across the international border.

The pipeline starts at the Enbridge terminal in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, and runs southeast to Neche, N.D., just west of the Minnesota border. From there, it goes to Superior, Wis.

"Line 67 is a key component of Enbridge's Mainline System, which U.S. refineries rely on to supply the crude oil that fuels our everyday lives," Enbridge said in a statement. "Those refineries provide vital products to consumers across the Midwest, including in Minnesota. There is a strong demand for pipeline capacity and Line 67 remains critical energy infrastructure for the United States."

The Alberta Clipper now can move more than 890,000 barrels of Canadian tar sands oil a day, slightly more than the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that the administration also approved this year. The new oil flow permitted by Washington is about twice as much as the existing crossing can carry.

Environmentalists expected Monday's action.

"Today's approval of a dirty tar sands project is far from a surprise given the Trump administration's commitment to propping up the fossil fuel industry above all else," the Sierra Club's Kelly Martin said.

However, Martin said, the Washington decision is less important that one that remains to be made in Minnesota: whether to expand the Enbridge Line 3 so it can carry more tar sands oil.

State regulators are expected to make a decision on expanding and moving Line 3 next April, although whatever action they take is expected to end up in court.

After the Alberta Clipper began operating in 2010, Enbridge added pump stations in 2014 and 2015. It asked the federal State Department in 2012 to grant a permit for the 36-inch-diameter pipeline to cross the Canadian border.

The Obama administration opposed both the Alberta Clipper and Keystone pipelines.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.