(BABBIT, MINN)             Following recent action by the Minnesota Legislature to approve a bonding bill that will use taxpayer dollars to fund construction projects, Mayor Andrea Zupancich of Babbitt today called on Governor Walz to make sure permits for the Line 3 Replacement Project are approved and issued this year.  The Minnesota House and Senate voted this week to approve the $1.8 billion measure during the recent special legislative session.  Zupancich is the latest in a growing number of mayors calling on the Walz Administration to approve Line 3, in part, because of the jobs and private sector investment it will create. 

The latest information from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) shows more than 75,000 workers in the 14 “Line 3 Counties” have filed unemployment insurance applications since March of 2020, representing more than 26 percent of the available workforce. The privately funded Line 3 project would immediately put more than 4,000 people to work as soon as this year. 

“Historically Minnesota has looked at the bonding bill as a way to create the jobs and investment our communities need to move things forward,” said Babbitt Mayor Andrea Zupancich.  “That has changed, in part, because the challenges we face across Northern Minnesota need and demand action beyond what can be paid for only by taxpayers.  Line 3 will use billions of private sector dollars to immediately put thousands of people to work this year in communities that need the energy and investment.  While it’s good news to see agreement on the key legislation, making sure Line 3’s permits are approved this year is more important and it’s why I am calling on Governor Walz to make sure it happens.”

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.

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.

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 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 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.

“Northern Minnesota’s history was created by making sure we can approve key projects that have protected the environment and created the jobs and investment that have supported our communities,” Zupancich said.  “Our future now depends on this same approach to make sure we continue to both protect our natural resources and create an economy that allows communities to thrive.  Line 3 meets this important test.  It is clearly better for the environment to replace a key part of our energy infrastructure in a way that creates the family-supporting jobs we need.  In a year of so many big decisions that need to be made, it’s clearly time now for Governor Walz to make sure there are no more delays, that permits are issued and work on Line 3 can start this year.”

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

County   Percentage
Kittson   11.8%
Beltrami   25.3%
Marshall   17.3%
Pennington   25.2%
Polk   22.2%
Red Lake   226%
Clearwater   30.4%
Hubbard   28%
Cass   35%
Crow Wing   30.5%
Aitkin   29.3%
Carlton   31.1%
St. Louis   31.6%
Wadena   27.4%
AVERAGE   26.26%
TOTAL # of workers   75,408

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