(BEMIDJI, MINN)           While work on permits for the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement project continues, the number of people needing economic help where the project will be built continues has increased for the ninth week in row. The latest information from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) shows the average percentage of workers in the 14 “Line 3 Counties” who have filed unemployment insurance claims continues to increase and is now 23.9%.  The Line 3 project is the most reviewed and studied pipeline project in Minnesota history.  It would immediately create thousands of quality, union jobs and invest billions in communities across Northern Minnesota at such a critically important time.  

“The news gets worse each week as these numbers go up and more people need to know there is hope that things will change this year,” said Antonio Franklin, Executive Director of the Thief River Falls Chamber of Commerce.  “Making sure Line 3 construction gets started this year is the only way we can guarantee things can change for the better for families and workers.  It’s now too late for a legislative bonding bill to make any impact on our economy this year.  The people who live and work across Northern Minnesota need help, hope, and guarantees that Line 3 will bring.”

The Line 3 project has been under review by agencies and regulators for more than five years. If construction is able to start this year, the project will immediately create more than 4,000 good paying, union jobs that will support families and bring new customers to area hotels, restaurants, and other local businesses.  To replace the aging energy infrastructure, Enbridge will invest approximately $2.6 billion to support the construction work.  As the company continues to plan for the project, Enbridge has already spent more than $80 million in local communities and to help train tribal members for construction jobs. 

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s decision to hold a contested case hearing on key permits for the project means the earliest construction could start would be mid-November of this year.  In June, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted 4-1 to deny requests from the Minnesota Department of Commerce and other project opponents to reconsider its approval of both the certificate of need and the route permit.  The PUC has refiled the certificate of need and route permit to continue the overall permitting process for the project. 

Minnesota Governor Tim Walz is now considering if he will have the Minnesota Department of Commerce file a legal challenge to the PUC decisions.  If any additional legal challenges are filed by the Walz Administration, it would likely create additional delays resulting in construction work being put off until 2021 at the earliest.

“It has always made common sense to replace something this important with something that is newer, better, and stronger,” Franklin said.  “Knowing that this project will also lift up so many people and communities, getting Line 3 done is even more important. I truly hope Governor Walz will not only look at all the work that has been done to study and review Line 3 but also see how much people here are struggling.  We need his leadership to say ‘NO’ to any more appeals and ‘YES’ to getting Line 3 approved so people can get back to work this year.”

Latest average unemployment insurance information for Line 3 Counties as of July 26thst

County   Percentage
Kittson 11.1%
Beltrami   23.2%
Marshall 15.7%
Pennington 22.3%
Polk 20.1%
Red Lake 19.9%
Clearwater 28.1%
Hubbard 25.5%
Cass 32.2%
Crow Wing 28.4%
Aitkin 26%
Carlton 28.1%
St. Louis 28.9%
Wadena 25.2%
AVERAGE   23.91%

Percentage of people filing for unemployment insurance as a share of the 2019 available labor force

Data provided by Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development

Contact: Susan Goudge
Susan@Minnesotansforline3.com | 218-556-3617