(BRAINERD, MINN)        While Governor Walz and legislative leaders continue to try to work out final details for a taxpayer-funded legislative bonding bill, the number of people needing economic help across Northern Minnesota continues to increase.  The latest information from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) shows the average percentage of workers who have filed unemployment insurance claims in the 14 “Line 3 Counties” is now almost 26%.  While projects included in state capital investment legislation would need taxpayers to pay for the costs, the Line 3 Replacement Project would immediately invest more than $2 billion of private sector dollars into Minnesota.

“It’s incredibly hard to understand why our elected leaders can’t resolve these issues and at the same time it’s even harder to understand why a project like Line 3 that will create jobs this year without taxpayer dollars continues to be delayed,” said Clearbrook, MN Mayor Dylan Goudge  “Not only is Line 3 bigger than any bonding bill that has been proposed, it’s also the only chance to get people back to work this year. Even if a bonding bill gets approved, it will be incredibly hard for any of the projects to get started this year.  People in Clearbrook and across Northern Minnesota cannot wait any longer.  We need things to change now and Line 3 is the best way for that to happen.”

Governor Walz and legislative leaders have repeatedly failed to reach an agreement on a package of projects that would be funded by general obligation bonds, trunk highway bonds and appropriation bonds.  All of these funding sources are backed by taxpayer dollars.  Potential projects being considered for funding have included upgrading or preserving buildings on college campuses, dams and flood mitigation work, key road and bridge projects, as well money for water quality projects.

The Line 3 Replacement project would have Enbridge invest approximately $2.6 billion to fund work across 14 counties and immediately create more than 4,000 good paying union job. Enbridge has already spent more than $100 million with tribal communities to help engage their members to connect them with construction jobs.

The Line 3 project has been under review by agencies and regulators for almost six years. It officially started in 2015 during the Obama-Biden Administration when Enbridge submitted their application for replacement of Line 3 to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission as part of its integrity and maintenance driven program. In 2016, Enbridge entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and Environmental Protection Agency, both led by Obama-Biden appointees. As part of this agreement, the U.S. Government required Enbridge to replace the Line 3 pipeline. On June 28, 2018, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved the Certificate of Need and approved the Route Permit.

In June of this year, instead of issuing key permits to allow Line 3 construction to start, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency decided to hold a contested case hearing that has delayed the permiting decision until November.  The agency decided to use the hearing process to consider a number of additional questions raised by the Friends of the Headwaters, Sierra Club, Honor the Earth, White Earth Band of Ojibwe and the Red Lake Band of Chippewa.  Only 7 witnesses testified in the hearing that took only a few hours instead of the planned full week of time that had been reserved.

The decision to hold the contested case process delays a final decision on the 401 permits potentially until November 14th.  Work by the agencies to complete these permits continues, despite Governor Walz’s recent decision to have the Department of Commerce legally challenge the PUC’s decision to again issue the Certificate of Need.  If approved by the MPCA, the water-related permits will then be sent to the Army Corps of Engineers for final approval.  If the Army Corps approves the permit, construction will start this year.

“I respect there are a number of issues involved with legislators and Governor Walz trying to agree on a bonding bill that will create jobs in the future,” Goudge said.  “At the same time, it’s hard to look at these numbers and all the people who need help and a job.  We clearly need our Governor to step forward to make sure Line 3 construction happens.  After five years of review the only question about this project that remains to be answered is when construction can start.  The answer to this question needs to be this year.”

Latest average unemployment insurance information for Line 3 Counties as of September 25th 

County   Percentage
Kittson 11.7%
Beltrami   25.1%
Marshall 17%
Pennington 24.9%
Polk 21.8%
Red Lake 22.5%
Clearwater 30%
Hubbard 27.6%
Cass 34.6%
Crow Wing 30.1%
Aitkin 28.8%
Carlton 30.7%
St. Louis 31.2%
Wadena 27.1%
AVERAGE   25.94%

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