BEMIDJI, Minn.-The connection between petroleum and the economy, pipeline industry standards and employment opportunities were the themes Thursday, June 22, at a Jobs for Minnesotans news conference.
The event took place not long before a Minnesota Department of Commerce public meeting in Bemidji to collect comments on a draft environmental impact statement on an Enbridge Energy-proposed replacement Line 3 oil pipeline.
Jobs for Minnesotans, an organization co-founded in 2012 by the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, supports the project. In doing so, the organization urges the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to approve a certificate of need and preferred route applications for Enbridge.
In its release, Jobs for Minnesotans states the Line 3 project has the potential to create more than 6,500 jobs for the state over a two-year period in construction, hospitality, supplies and manufacturing. Jobs for Minnesotans also claims the project could generate long-term employment in safety, monitoring and maintenance.
While job creation was highlighted Thursday by speakers at the meeting, such as Beltrami County Commissioner and business owner Jim Lucachick, the importance of oil in today's economy was also noted.
"Petroleum, right now, is a reality of our life. Virtually everything that you touch, wear and drive in is petroleum-connected," Lucachick said. "We don't have a good, powerful energy source to replace the element of our needs."
The environment was also brought up on Thursday by Lucachick, who said, "many people say 'we need to be environmentally sensitive.' That's exactly what Enbridge is doing with its Line 3 replacement. We need to take care of an older system in the ground."
Bob Schoneberger, president of Duluth-based United Piping, called the project one of the "biggest and most needed infrastructure projects in the state of Minnesota." Additionally, Schoneberger detailed the industry's commitment to safety.
"We do not leave our jobs as a wasteland. When we leave our jobs, they are cleaned up, new grass and crops are planted and we monitor it for years to come with unwavering commitment to leave the smallest footprint possible," Schoneberger said. "We create jobs, we put kids through college, we put food on people's tables and we're environmentalists of the truest kind."
"Six pipelines currently run through the Bemidji area, a community that has benefited from jobs during construction and maintenance of these pipelines," said Jobs for Minnesotans board member Jason George in a release. "With oil moving underground, we also continue to maintain a tourism industry and beautiful outdoors that brings pride to everyone here."