Judge: Groups didn't prove Line 3 construction could damage wetlands, streams
October 19, 2020
An administrative law judge said opponents of Enbridge's proposed Line 3 oil pipeline did not prove construction of the project would harm wetlands and streams.
In a non-binding recommendation issued Friday, Judge James LaFave said the coalition of environmental and tribal groups failed to meet the burden of proof in a contested-case hearing on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's water permits over the summer and urged the MPCA commissioner to make the same finding when considering the 340-mile pipeline's 401 certification, a permit awarded by a state's regulators if the project's impact on water falls within the state's standard. The MPCA's decision is due Nov. 14.
"The Joint Petitioners' challenge brought additional transparency and insight to this important process," LaFave wrote. "At the same time, agencies charged with scrutinizing the plans and proposals submitted by Enbridge are experts in their fields ...The Joint Petitioners bear the burden of proving, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the facts forming the basis for the MPCA's decisions in the five issues under consideration are erroneous. The Joint Petitioners have not met that burden."