AVERAGE PERCENTAGE OF WORKERS IN 14 “LINE 3 COUNTIES” WHO HAVE FILED UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE CLAIMS IS STILL OVER 26%
(THIEF RIVER FALLS, MINN) Thief River Falls Mayor Brian Holmer is the latest local elected official to urge approval of permits for the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement project. This comes as Governor Walz is expected to call legislators back for another special legislative session next week. While Governor Walz and lawmakers will try again to pass a bonding bill, Holmer said the Line 3 project would immediately put more than 4,000 people to work as soon as this year.
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 above 26%.
“Our elected leaders have spent most of this year not being able to agree on things as the economy gets worse each week,” said Thief River Falls Mayor Brian Holmer. “We need Governor Walz to make sure Line 3 gets approved because it is the only guaranteed way to change things this year. The economic stimulus generated by the Line 3 project will be important not only for Thief River Falls, but for all the communities along the route. Secondary spending along the line will be a huge benefit for our towns and cities whether at hotels, restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores and more.”
Next week Governor Walz is expected to extend the state’s COVID-19 peacetime state of emergency for an additional 30 days. This would automatically trigger another special legislative session during which lawmakers would likely try again to pass a bonding bill that would use taxpayer dollars to fund projects.
To replace the aging line, Enbridge will invest approximately $2.6 billion to fund work across 14 counties. The project will immediately create more than 4,000 good paying union jobs. Enbridge has already spent more than $100 million with tribal communities to help engage their members to connect them with construction jobs. When fully completed, the replaced Line 3 will also create additional tax revenue for counties and school districts across Northern Minnesota.
The Line 3 project has been under review by state and federal 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 that would have allowed Line 3 construction to start, the Walz Administration directed the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to hold a contested case hearing that has delayed the permitting decision until November.
The decision to hold the contested case process has delayed a final decision on the 401 permits potentially until November 14th. At the same time, work by agencies to complete 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 as soon as possible.
“It’s a dirty shame that after five years we still can’t get this project approved,” Holmer said. “Line 3 has passed every test and Minnesota is the only section of the line that has not been replaced. The workers are ready and there is nothing left to study or review. Our communities are ready for work to start and I strongly urge Governor Walz help us move this forward.”
Latest average unemployment insurance information for Line 3 Counties as of October 30th
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