There clearly has been a lot of controversy about Line 3, as there often is with any important and complicated project that has to go through a thorough and public approval process. The noise can often seem to overwhelm things, yet history shows it fades as the things move forward in a way that usually makes the project better because of the process.
Opponents of the new St. Croix River Crossing in Stillwater for years made claims the bridge would destroy the community and “scar the environment” before it was finally approved and built. Today the bridge is reducing congestion, improving traffic flow, making life better in Stillwater, and creating something spectacular to look at.
Line 3 still has many more steps to work through before construction starts, but we are already seeing important progress and some of the positive impact this project will have.
Last week we learned that Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and Enbridge reached an agreement that allows the company to build part of the line on tribal land. This is great news and means the route for Line 3 is now finalized, in part because of the Enbridge living up to its commitment to work cooperatively with tribal communities.
The agreement shows the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission made the right decision to approve the route. The agreement also shows that if you can get to the table and talk, there is always a mutually agreeable deal to be made that benefits both sides. It shows what happens when we work together.
We also read recently about Gordon Construction, an Native American-owned construction company based in Mahnomen, MN and two otherNative American-owned companies: Earthworks and FDL Pipeline Services. All three are bidding on parts of the Line 3 construction and look at Line 3 as an opportunity to grow their companies.
Enbridge has made a commitment to spend as much as $100 million to hireNative American-owned firms to work on Line 3. They want to make sure the work on the line will benefit people in communities along its route. The news about Gordon and the other companies show that Enbridge is making good on its commitment andNative American-owned companies are seeing the results.
My company, United Piping, has created a joint-venture with Gordon. We won a project and are already working on a pump station where Line 3 ends in Superior, WI. Gordon’s team is doing the earth and concrete work, while our crews are doing the valve and piping work. Gordon’s teams are also maintaining several pipe yards where the pipe for Line 3 is being stored.
Butch Gordon started the company and his son Matt now runs it. They are members of the White Earth Nation and worked other big projects that includes a public library in Bemidji and the Shooting Star Casino.
Line 3 will be the largest construction project ever in Minnesota, more than twice as big as US Bank Stadium. For Matt and his company, Line 3 is also a chance to double the size of their business, creating jobs and more work for people from White Earth and other communities.
There is a lot of work and approvals to get done before construction on the Minnesota section of Line 3 can start. There will be continued efforts by some to try to stop progress or deny the importance, need and impact of Line 3.
But there is also a great deal of good things happening with Line 3, driven by the process, the system, and good people working together in a way that is clearly good for Minnesota.