By Dan Fabian
Time and again we see Minnesota's fundamentally broken regulatory processes hurt our state's economy and place unnecessary roadblocks in the way of business and job creation.
Everyone agrees that we want a regulatory system that protects our environment and our citizens. The state should also provide a fair regulatory process for businesses looking to build and invest in our state. Unfortunately, instead of finding a commonsense balance on regulating industry and private sector investments, our current system is once again favoring special interests and stalling a key pipeline project in Northwest Minnesota.
The Enbridge 3 Line Replacement Project is designed to make improvements to an existing pipeline and ensure oil continues to travel safely from Canada, through Minnesota, to Superior, Wisconsin. This is a critical project for our area and will bring jobs and tax revenue to local communities. That's why it is frustrating that the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is once again wasting time and resources with redundant hearings and delay tactics.
There have now been three rounds of public comment periods with the PUC having just completed an additional 22 meetings on the Line 3 Project this month. That brings the total of public meetings in the past few years to just under 50 with countless hours of testimony at commission hearings. The PUC should and does now have more than enough feedback to make an informed decision at this point, having had more than ample time to examine the merits of Line 3 and hear from those arguing both for and against the pipeline proposal.
Instead of unnecessarily drawing out the permitting process, it's time for the PUC to act and approve this important project.
The kind of runarounds put forth by our state regulatory commissions and agencies have driven away billions in investments and many good-paying jobs over the past several years. For example, after a long, drawn-out effort, Enbridge chose to buy into the Dakota Access Pipeline after the state repeatedly stalled the Sandpiper Pipeline. Minnesota Power is building across the border in Wisconsin instead of investing additional dollars in our state, put off in part by our burdensome regulatory process. When will enough be enough?
As Chair of the House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, I will continue to work to streamline our regulatory and permitting process so we can grow investments in our state instead of driving them away. As we work at the Legislature to make much-needed improvements, in the meantime the PUC needs to stop stalling and act so we can complete the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project in northern Minnesota.
Dan Fabian is the state representative for Roseau, Kittson and Marshall counties, as well as the city of Thief River Falls.