(VIRGINIA, MINN)          Virginia Mayor Larry Cuffe today thanked supporters of the Line 3 Replacement Project for their years-long advocacy as state agencies have now released key permits that will move it closer to construction.  The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Thursday issued its remaining permits and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) issued the Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification.  While there are still some remaining permits for the project, the DNR and MPCA permits were very significant.

The action by the state agencies comes as the latest information from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) continues to show the average percentage of workers in the 14 “Line 3 Counties” who have filed unemployment insurance applications since March of 2020 remains at 28%. Line 3 has now been replaced in North Dakota, Wisconsin, and Canada. When approved, the privately funded project will immediately put more than 4,000 union members to work in Minnesota as soon as this year. 

“After having spent so many years reviewing data, the route, and studying other information, it now feels like we are finally ready to see this happen,” said Virginia Mayor Larry Cuffe.  “The DNR has now issued all of their permits and the MPCA has issued the 401 certification.  After years of review and strong support from people across our state, this is such great news.  After such a trying year we are one step closer to putting people back to work and bringing customers to our businesses and communities.”

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.  Now that the MPCA issued its 401 decision, the water-related permits now wait for the Army Corps of Engineers for final approval.  If the Army Corps approves the permit and other final agency approvals happen, construction will start as soon as possible.

“This has been a year of challenges from COVID as we have watched how it has hurt families, businesses and communities like Virginia,” Cuffe said.  “Not only do we need the positive economic impact from thousands of people working across our region, we also need the hope for the future a big project like this brings.  For years we have watched as this project has followed the process, proven its need and value, and waited for key decisions to be made.  As hard as it has been to see how long this has taken, today there is new momentum that I hope translates in the activities we know will be great for my community and so many others in Minnesota.”

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