Source: Reuters

The Minnesota Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to hear environmental and tribal challenges to Enbridge Inc’s Line 3 oil pipeline, a decision that removes one potential obstacle for the already-delayed project.

It means the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, a state regulator that approved the Line 3 project last year, will not have to consider additional environmental issues relating to the aging pipeline.

Line 3 is part of Enbridge’s Mainline network that transports western Canadian oil to refineries in Minnesota and Wisconsin. The replacement project would double current capacity to 760,000 barrels per day, providing much-needed relief from congestion on existing Canadian pipelines.

Pipelines carrying Canadian oil have for years fallen short of meeting demand due to delays of Line 3, the Canadian government-owned Trans Mountain and TC Energy Corp’s Keystone XL.

Line 3 was meant to be in service by the end of this year but has already been delayed until the second half of 2020 because of issues with permitting.

In June, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission had failed to address how an oil spill from the line would affect Lake Superior within the project’s environmental impact statement.

Groups that oppose replacement of Line 3, which was built in the 1960s, petitioned for the Supreme Court to review other aspects of the impact statement that the appeals court approved.

Those petitions were denied on Tuesday.

Calgary-based Enbridge did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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