The Republican-controlled Minnesota Senate has ousted state Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley, in part because of his role in fighting the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline project, Kallanish Energy reports.
The vote was 33-31 to remove Kelley.
He is the second state leader to lose a state job due to the continuing political fight between Republicans and Democratic Gov. Tim Walz.
Kelley took office in 2019 but he had to be confirmed by the Senate to continue in his job.
The Senate had expressed unhappiness over Kelley’s qualifications to regulate the insurance industry as well as his decision to appeal a permit for the Enbridge oil pipeline, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Republicans were angered last August when Kelley’s Commerce Department said it would appeal a state utility regulator’s approval of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline project.
That, Republicans said, was an affront to those who support the pipeline project.
The Commerce Department has generally opposed the Enbridge project through the permitting process.
The $8.2 billion project is expected to take six to nine months to build, once all the permits are in place, Enbridge has said.
The company has said it would like to begin construction before year-end 2020, although that seems unlikely.
The project will create 4,200 construction jobs.
Additional state and federal permits are still needed before Enbridge can begin construction on the shovel-ready project.
Enbridge has said that the old pipeline is corroding and its capacity has been cut in half. Its maintenance is costly, the company has said. It was built from 1962 to 1967.
The new line would be 1,097 miles in length in three states and Canada.
At present, Line 3 runs from Hardisty, Alberta, to Superior, Wis. The Canadian portion runs from Hardisty to Gretna, Manitoba, and the U.S. portion runs from Neche, N.D., to Superior, Wis.
It has been completed in Canada and Wisconsin.
It is a key part of Enbridge’s Mainline System for transporting tar sands crude oil to refineries and markets in the United States and eastern Canada.
The pipeline, now 34 inches in diameter, will be replaced with a 36-inch-in-diameter line.
It is designed to carry light, medium and heavy crudes and light synthetics. The initial capacity would be about 760,000 barrels per day.
It would replace one of the five Enbridge oil pipelines that move crude oil across Minnesota.
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