(EVELETH, MINN)          Eveleth Mayor Bob Vlaisavljevich today called on Minnesota Governor Tim Walz to make sure all the remaining permits for the Enbridge Line 3 project are approved as the number of people across Northern Minnesota needing economic help increased again.  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 applications since March of 2020 is now 27.3%. The privately funded Line 3 project will immediately put more than 4,000 people to work as soon as this year.  Vlaisavljevich joins more than 40 other mayors across Northern Minnesota urging the Governor to approve Line 3, in part, because of the jobs and private sector investment it will create. 

“The facts are clear, and the need is real,” said Eveleth Mayor Bob Vlaisavljevich.  “We need ways now to put people back to work in a way that also supports our communities across Northern Minnesota. It also makes sense to replace something old with something that is newer, better and stronger.  Line 3 does all of this and it’s clear, as the permits are being issued, that it’s now time for the rest of them to be approved.”

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 and operational, 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.

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. 

Last week the DNR issued the first two of ten permits for the project and are expected to issue the remaining permits in the next few weeks.  The permits were issued after the agency determined the applications by Enbridge, as conditioned, met the requirements of state statutes and rules.

In June the Walz Administration directed the MPCA to hold a contested case hearing for the agency’s 401 permits that delayed the final decision until November 14th.  After the contest case hearing and review of the draft 401 water quality permits, the administrative law judge released its report that found the project record adequately supports the MPCA’s decision to issue the permit. 

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 next month, 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.

“We finally see significant progress and real momentum towards work starting,” Vlaisavljevich said.  “I respect that Minnesota has a strong process to review projects like Line 3 to make sure we protect the environment.  The goal for this is to make sure projects meet our important standards and that work can get done.  Line 3 clearly meets our standards, permits are being issued, and I am hopeful that work here can finally get done.”

Latest average unemployment insurance information for Line 3 Counties as of September 30th  

County   Percentage
Kittson   12.2%
Beltrami   26.2%
Marshall   18.2%
Pennington   26.7%
Polk   23%
Red Lake   24.4%
Clearwater   31.5%
Hubbard   29%
Cass   36.1%
Crow Wing   31.3%
Aitkin   30.6%
Carlton   32%
St. Louis   32.5%
Wadena   28.4%
AVERAGE   27.3%

Percentage and number 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