We write in response to a recent Community Voices commentary by Caroline Frischmon against the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline. It is important that readers look at the full picture.
On Dec. 1, after six years of permitting, reviews and studies, construction began to replace Line 3 and to date, nearly 20 percent of the project is complete.
The author compared the aging pipeline that was built in the 1960s to a friend’s old car and stated that fixing something past its prime is worthless. But just look around you anytime you drive across Minnesota and you will see that we are constantly repairing and addressing aging infrastructure. We fix roads, replace pipes and upgrade power utilities to make sure they are working at full capacity and are as safe as they can be. Line 3 is no different.
Left untouched, the risks are great
This pipeline was built in the 1960s and under the Obama/Biden administration it was agreed that Line 3 needed to be replaced in order to improve safety. In this piece, the author mentions that the pipeline is in disrepair and that leaks could be catastrophic – two of the primary reasons why this project is so crucial. Left untouched, the risks are great.
While we always need to learn more about alternative and clean energy, for the time being, oil is here to stay and we need to do what we can to ensure that it’s transported safely.
Many Line 3 opponents have turned their vitriol on Gov. Tim Walz. Thankfully, Walz has shown that he understands the need to both plan for the future and make sure we have a safe and efficient way to get from today to what is next. There will be a time when we use less oil, but we also need to make sure we have the right path to get there.
The most studied pipeline project
It is also important to note that this project has been under review for more than six years and has garnered nearly two dozen state, federal and local permits and approvals before being allowed to move forward. In fact, the Line 3 pipeline is the most studied pipeline project in Minnesota history. Even further, Enbridge has invested more than $100 million in safety measures to ensure that workers and our environment will be protected during construction and for years to come.
Additionally, years of public input from local communities, elected officials, and Native American tribes were a part of the planning. There are several pipelines that are running safely across Minnesota like Line 3, and this project is the first pipeline project to have Native Americans lead the cultural review process. Enbridge has invested more than $100 million to work with and train Native Americans for new jobs and careers that will have long term benefits in their communities. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers started consulting with the tribes about this project in 2015, proposing more than a dozen areas to avoid or re-route, and Enbridge committed to doing just that.
The recent commentary against this project mentioned 4,000 pipeline jobs, acknowledging that they would be beneficial. We must first address that we are still enduring a pandemic that put hundreds of thousands out of work. Now, with the pipeline construction under way, we have thousands of Minnesota families who are once again bringing in a paycheck. In total, this project is expected to create more than 8,600 jobs in our state, with half of them being union construction jobs.
Ripple effect shouldn’t be ignored
But huge projects like this also have a ripple effect that is often ignored. The towns and cities along the construction route are seeing their traffic increase and their businesses boom. These are restaurants, hotels, and gas stations that were hit hard over the past year and are finally seeing their sales improve. Employees on Main Street Minnesota are being put back to work because of this project, and that should not be ignored.
Lastly, we must look at the big picture. This project is expected to produce more than $160 million in gain for local communities. The property taxes Enbridge pays Minnesota annually will more than double from $30 million per year to more than $65 million per year after construction is complete. And overall, we will see a more than $2 billion boost to our economy.
While opponents of this project will continue to say pipelines are unsafe and unclean, the facts tell a different story. This pipeline has an incredible economic benefit to our state and will also improve safety for our environment and our communities.
Dylan Goudge is the mayor of Clearbrook, Minnesota; Dan Godin is the mayor of Leonard, Minnesota; and Brian Holmer is the mayor of Thief River Falls, Minnesota.
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