(BEMIDJI, MINN)           The number of people across Northern Minnesota seeking economic help continues to increase as they wait for key decisions by Governor Walz about the Line 3 Replacement project.  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 is now almost 23 percent.  This is the 5th week in a row the rate has increased since Minnesotans for Line 3 has been tracking the data and shows the ongoing need to find ways to get people back to work. 

The continued increase in the number of people needing help comes as Minnesota Governor Tim Walz considers appealing recent decisions by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to issue a certificate of need and route permit for the pipeline project.  Two of the four PUC commissioners voting to approve the actions, Valerie Means and Joe Sullivan, were recently appointed by Governor Walz.  Last year Governor Walz and groups opposing the project filed litigation that further delayed the project.  If the Walz Administration again legally challenges the PUC’s approval, it would likely make it almost impossible for construction to start in 2020. 

“It is impossible to ignore the ongoing economic challenges we are dealing with as these numbers go up every week,” said Marc & Tanner Olson of Lakes Concrete Plus, Inc of Bemidji, Walker, Fosston & Northome, MN.  “We need help now to change things and get people back to work.  The only project that can do that in a significant way is Line 3.  Governor Walz needs to listen to the people he has appointed and accept the PUC’s decision and the fact this project is ready to go and is needed across Northern Minnesota. We and the many others who support Line 3 again call on him to do the right thing for the growing number of families who need work, hope, and that things will get better.”

The Line 3 project would immediately create more than 4,000 good paying, union jobs in cities across Northern Minnesota.  The project will also invest approximately $2.6 billion into local economies and Enbridge has already spent hundreds of thousands of dollars preparing for construction to start.  All of this at a time when Minnesota has never needed the jobs and investment more.  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.  Any additional legal challenges filed by the Walz Administration would likely create additional delays resulting in construction work being put off until 2021.

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.  Two of commissioners who voted to deny the petitions to reconsider the certificate of need and route permit were recently appointed by Governor Walz.  They both strongly supported the PUC’s decision to re-issue the two key permits:

Commissioner Valerie Means:

  • “The project is the safest, most rational option for protection the environment and Minnesota communities.”

Commissioner Joe Sullivan:

  • “I also believe that the Commission did not err in its legal determination as demand for the pipeline has been shown.”

Latest unemployment information for Line 3 Counties as of July 9th

County   Percentage
Kittson 10.4%
Beltrami   22.1%
Marshall 14.9%
Pennington 20.8%
Polk 19.3%
Red Lake 18.6%
Clearwater 26.8%
Hubbard 24.8%
Cass 31.1%
Crow Wing 27.6%
Aitkin 24.9%
Carlton 26.8%
St. Louis 27.9%
Wadena 24.4%
AVERAGE   22.88%

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 | 218-556-3617