(MOUNTAIN IRON, MINN)         As a deadline for a key Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project permit gets closer, another Northern Minnesota economic development leader today called on Minnesota Governor Tim Walz to make sure all remaining permits for the project are approved.  Steve Giorgi, Executive Director of Range Association of Municipalities and Schools (RAMS), urged the Walz Administration to approve permits to make sure construction on Line 3 starts this year.  The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has until November 16th to decide if it will issue a 401-certification permit that is needed to make sure the project moves forward.  The privately funded Line 3 project will immediately put more than 4,000 people to work as soon as this year. 

Giorgi’s call to have the administration approve permits comes as 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 almost 28%.

“More than ever, people across Northern Minnesota need the opportunity to get back to work and that is why we need Governor Walz to make sure permits for Line 3 get approved,” said Steve Giorgi, Executive Director of Range Association of Municipalities and Schools (RAMS).  “The DNR has already started issuing permits and the contested case process found no reason for the MPCA to not be able to issue the key remaining permit.  Every question about the project has now been answered. We now need Governor Walz to make sure all the permits are approved to make sure work starts this year.”

To replace the aging line, Enbridge will invest approximately $2.6 billion to fund work across 14 counties. 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, having started in 2014 during the Obama-Biden Administration. Enbridge submitted their application for replacement of Line 3 to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in 2015 as part of the company’s 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 October, the DNR issued the first two of its ten permits for the project and are expected to issue the remaining permits in the next few weeks.  The DNR permits were issued after the agency determined the applications by Enbridge, as conditioned, met the requirements of state statutes and rules.

In June of this year the Walz Administration directed the MPCA to hold a contested case hearing to review the draft 401 permit that delayed the final agency decision until November 14th.  After the contest case hearing and review, the administrative law judge released its report that found the project record adequately supports the MPCA’s decision to issue the permit.  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 represent communities and school districts who have watched too many people and businesses struggle this year as COVID continues to hurt our economy,” Giorgi said.  “In addition to replacing something old with something new, better, and stronger, Line 3 will immediately create jobs across Northern Minnesota.  The secondary impact means people in stores, restaurants, and hotels.  When it’s in operation, the replaced Line 3 means more tax revenue for communities and school district.  Line 3 is that important to us and it’s why we need things to move forward.”

Latest average unemployment insurance information for Line 3 Counties as of October 28th  

County   Percentage
Kittson   12.5%
Beltrami   26.7%
Marshall   18.8%
Pennington   27.3%
Polk   23.5%
Red Lake   25%
Clearwater   32.4%
Hubbard   29.7%
Cass   37%
Crow Wing   32.2%
Aitkin   31.7%
Carlton   32.6%
St. Louis   33%
Wadena   29.5%
AVERAGE   27.99%

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