The Department of Commerce, at Gov. Tim Walz’s insistence, issued another appeal to rescind the Line 3 Replacement Project’s construction permit.
Despite approval on two separate occasions, the most recent in February, the project has been plagued with delays for the past six years. The governor should start respecting the long and lawful approval process and stop impeding safety and economic benefits to Greater Minnesota.
The pipeline fixes are crucial for Minnesota’s economic and environmental health. Seventy meetings, a multitude of public comment periods and a 13,000-plus page environmental impact statement from the Public Utilities Commission vetted every step of the process.
After considering significant findings, the project was approved by people who, in large part, were appointed by Gov. Walz. Who is behind the scenes leading the governor in a ruinous direction time and time again, despite his previous commitments to Northern Minnesota?
The possibility of an oil leak from operating a pipeline built in the 1960’s is not another pressure the state needs amid economic shortfalls and increased crime. The northern part of our state is beautiful and vital, and its preservation should be a high priority — oil must move through the area, so we should be doing it safely and with the lowest possible environmental impact. As found in the lengthy environmental impact statement, that is what an updated Line 3 offers.
Further, the governor’s latest decision puts thousands of jobs at risk. That’s right, thousands. Unemployment in Northern Minnesota currently hovers around 20%. Line 3 Replacement is a $2.3 billion private investment that would result in around 4,200 construction jobs and over $100 million in tribal employment.
Small northern communities are still suffering under the economic fallout of shutdowns earlier in the year. They could certainly use the increased revenue and business opportunity that would come from heavier traffic. Our regular, working people need something substantial for their families in the coming months, yet the administration is denying promised jobs on a whim.
The moment Gov. Walz went back on his word, he once again chose to put the opinions of metro residents over the well-being of Greater Minnesota. Commencement of the pipeline replacement project is not a matter of “if”, but “when.”
For once, Minnesota leadership needs to make the right decision and stand by it.
Sen. Jason Rarick represents District 11 in the Minnesota Senate.