MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- A member of Gov. Tim Walz's cabinet has faced sharp questioning for approving an appeal over a pipeline project in a dispute that could cost him his job.

Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley is under fire for appealing the Public Utilities Commission's approval of Enbridge Energy's plan to replace its aging Line 3 pipeline across northern Minnesota. Kelley defended the appeal, saying he's obligated to ensure that state statutes are followed.

Commerce Committee chairman Gary Dahms said the panels that held Friday's hearing likely would have forwarded his nomination without recommendation if they'd been in session. That's usually a bad sign.

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