(BEMIDJI, MINN)           As the next phase of work to replace Line 3 gets ready to re-start, county commissioners along the route say the project will have an important long-term positive impact on the region.  They say the project has created an immediate lift for local businesses, a longer-term impact from new tax revenue from the additional economic activity, and when fully done – Line 3 will reduce the amount of oil being shipped by trains that will help farmers more easily get crops to market.

“I can immediately see the impact of all the the vehicles with out-of-state plates, busy restaurants, and lots more business in the grocery stores and all the retail environments,” said Beltrami County Commissioner Craig Gaasvig. “Seeing the influx of out-of-town business that we haven’t had with everything being shut down as much as it was up here.  Our businesses up here were suffering, and we really needed that injection of extra business. It couldn’t have come soon enough.”

The Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) at the University of Minnesota Duluth’s Labovitz School of Business and Economics study estimated that that Line 3 will support 2,800 retail/hospitality sector jobs and 1,600 local supplier/manufacturer jobs.  The study also shows indirect positive economic impacts will include more than $160 million in non-local worker spending on meals, lodging, and incidentals while working in the study area. 

Beyond the financial investment in the communities, when fully operational Line 3 will reduce rail traffic that has been an issue for area farmers. 

“Our towns were built along the railroad to move agricultural products out of this country and bring our fertilizer and stuff like that in,” said Kittson County Commissioner Darrel Johnson.  “We have had elevators that get full of grain.  They can’t get cars to move the grain out then, and we can’t get our product into the elevator when we need to because they’re waiting for a train.  Because Line 3 can’t carry as much right now, trains now haul oil. They barrel right through our towns, right by our schools, right by our nursing homes and hospitals, over our rivers and streams.  The pipeline is a way safer way to move oil.”

Construction work on the Line 3 Replacement Project has been paused for two months because of seasonal road restrictions related to the seasonal transition from winter to spring.  Work will begin again in June.  Crews have already completed more than half of the project in the first four months.  During the first phase of work, the project has supported a workforce that at times exceeded 5,000 people across the route’s 14 counties. 

The effort to replace Line 3 started in 2014 during the Obama-Biden Administration as part of a review of America’s operating energy infrastructure.  Federal regulators and Enbridge agreed to a consent decree that ordered the company to replace the pipeline.  Enbridge worked with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and the agency’s robust review process by submitting an application to seek approval for replacing Line 3 in 2015.  The replacement project was part of Enbridge’s integrity and maintenance driven program. 

After more than six years of review by state and federal agencies, Line 3 is now the most reviewed pipeline project in Minnesota history.  For people who have closely followed the Line 3 permitting process, seeing the final approvals happen was an important moment. 

“The fact that it’s finally getting done after all these years is just such a relief,” Gaasvig said.  “To me, I can’t imagine how anybody with any common sense would be opposed to replacing a line that’s failing.  It would be a whole different story if Enbridge was asking the state taxpayers to pay for the replacement. They’re paying and they’re putting forth the money to do it themselves.  Replacing a line like that at their expense, to make it better and safer for the future. I just can’t imagine how anybody would think that is not a good idea.”

Contact: Susan Goudge | 218-556-3617