One of Enbridge's oil pipelines running through the Fond du Lac Reservation could soon be relocated underground.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Thursday accepted an application submitted last month by the Calgary-based company detailing a plan to take 10 miles of the existing Line 4 through the reservation, which currently sits above grade but under a mound of soil, and completely move it below grade.
The PUC is expected to make a decision on the project in July. If approved, the existing 48-inch diameter above-ground pipe would be removed and replaced with a 36-inch underground pipe. Work on the $100 million project would take place as Enbridge replaces its Line 3 oil pipeline, which runs parallel to Line 4. Awaiting final state and federal permits, the company expects to replace Line 3 in 2020.
Sara Van Norman, an attorney for the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, said the band supports replacing that segment of Line 4.
"It's a standalone project that needs to happen ... it's remedial and very much in the interest of my client," Van Norman told the PUC Tuesday morning.
Built in the early 1970s, Enbridge's Line 4 oil pipeline carries 796,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta to the Enbridge terminal in Superior. It's one of five Enbridge-owned pipelines following that corridor.
Enbridge said in a statement Thursday morning that the proposed relocation "makes the land more accessible to members of the Fond du Lac community for traditional land uses, restores wetland hydrology, improves safety and better protects the environment."
Public meetings and a comment period on the project are expected to begin next month with a final PUC decision planned for July 7.