(MOUNTAIN IRON, MINN)         As opponents travel to Minnesota from around the country to try to stop it and thousands of people are now back to work on the final phase of work, two regional leaders say the fact that Line 3 was approved and the immediate economic impact it is having are incredibly important.  After more than six years of review, construction is now 60 percent complete and crews expect to finish work later this year on one of the largest, privately-funded construction projects in Minnesota history.

“It was a great day for our region and for our state when Line 3 was approved,” said Steve Giorgi, Executive Director of the Range Association of Municipalities and Schools (RAMS). “It seemingly is an endless process to get permitted for virtually any kind of construction lately in Minnesota so this was a victory for all. It can be done. You need to have patience, you need to have perseverance. But when you have the right project and you’re willing to follow all of the guidelines, eventually you’re going to get the go ahead.”

“We’ve been losing a lot of battles up here, and this is one that we’re going to win,” said Eveleth Mayor Mayor Bob Vlaisavljevich. “It just makes common sense and it protects our environment. The economic impact is going to be immediate and go a long way to changing the area, giving us access to a lot of different things. It’s just a win-win. Things are happening here, people are pouring money into the area, and one nice thing: the project didn’t involve any taxpayer dollars.”

Enbridge is investing more than $2 billion in Minnesota to replace the 337 mile section of the pipeline.  The process to replace Line 3 started in 2014 during the Obama-Biden Administration.  The Line 3 project is now the most reviewed pipeline project in Minnesota history and has been reviewed by state and federal agencies and regulators for almost six years.

Despite a recent poll that showed Minnesotans strongly support the project, the decision to grant the project final permits and that the project should be allowed to be completed, thousand of opponents are traveling to Minnesota from across the country to try stop construction.  This follows repeated attempts by protesters to disrupt meetings, and interfere with construction that have not been able to stop the project. 

“You’re always going to have the need for petroleum based, natural gas, oil, in some parts of this country,” Vlaisavljevich said. “It’s a slow transition. It’s going to happen. Until then we have to have that capability and we have to know we can rely on it. I think these people don’t understand economics or the dynamics, or how it affects everyday quality of life. It’s just a ‘no’ mentality. I think they need a real good education in how this affects it, and I think a lot of people got one.”

“I think people are getting a little bit tired with some of the antics of the naysayers, putting themselves at risk, putting workers and EMTs and firefighters at risk,” Giorgi said. “Hopefully some of that will subside and we’re going to see some steady construction, good safety practices in place and more energy and vibrancy in the communities where these workers are staying and shopping and eating, and conducting their business.”

The project is continuing to have a significant economic impact across the region.  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. 

“There are a lot of people working on that project from here,” Vlaisavljevich said. “You could tell people were excited about it and guys were going to work. I talk with a lot of suppliers, they were really anxious. The impact it was having – it just started everything moving, the money being spent. People don’t realize what goes on in the local economy. This is a substantial amount of money that’s going for such a huge project.”