Amendment allowing Enbridge to bypass regulatory agency passes Minnesota House

An amendment to a jobs and environment bill circulating the Minnesota legislature allowing Enbridge Energy to replace an aging pipeline through the state was approved in the House Thursday, but only after a long day of contentious debate. 

The project has been held up by regulations for several years, but this particular amendment, sponsored by Rep. Pat Garofalo, R-Farmington, would allow Enbridge to circumvent the Public Utilities Board, a regulatory agency, to gain approval.

Proponents say the new pipeline would cut down on rail transport of the oil--which is more prone to spills--and create jobs in northern Minnesota. On the other side, the proposed path cuts through Native American ancestral lands that tribal members worry would threaten wild rice crops.

Opponents of the amendment drowned out debate from the House gallery, forcing security to remove several protesters.

The amendment passed 75-57, while the full jobs and environment bill is expected to pass Thursday evening.