ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has approved a certificate of need for the proposed Sandpiper pipeline from North Dakota's Bakken oil fields to Superior, Wisconsin.

While the PUC agreed 5-0 Friday that the $2.6 billion, 610-mile pipeline is necessary, they didn't foreclose the possibility of rerouting it away from environmentally sensitive lakes, streams and wetlands in northern Minnesota. Enbridge Energy will still have to go through a lengthy review of its proposed route and a proposed alternative.

Enbridge says Sandpiper is needed to move the growing supply of North Dakota crude safely and efficiently to market. It would carry about as much oil per day as 1,700 railroad tank cars. But environmentalists and tribal groups say the risk of leaks is too high.

North Dakota regulators have already approved Sandpiper.