This guest column is by Lorraine Little, Director, Community Engagement at Enbridge in Duluth.

There are more than 4,000 union men and women working on the long-awaited safety and maintenance replacement of Line 3 in northern Minnesota right now, and they feel strongly about the project as do opponents, like Winona LaDuke ("Fight against pipeline requires warm clothes and lawyers," Forum News Service column, Jan. 6). Now more than ever, what is important are the facts in this matter.

The Line 3 Replacement Project has passed every test and is being built on data gathered during six years of fact- and science-based regulatory and permitting review. That includes 70 public comment meetings, appellate review and reaffirmation of a 13,500-page Environmental Impact Statement, four separate reviews by administrative law judges, 320 route modifications in response to stakeholder input, and multiple reviews and approvals by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for the project’s certificate of need and route permit.

RELATED: LaDuke: Fight against pipeline requires warm clothes and lawyers

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers review was thorough and included robust public participation, including consultation with 30 indigenous tribes. In reviews of Line 3 by the PUC and Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, the state thoroughly considered the potential effect of spills, alternatives to the project route and specific crossing methodologies. The Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the State of Minnesota, the two certifying authorities under the Clean Water Act for the project, both issued 401 Water Quality Certifications, a requirement prior to the Corps of Engineers issuing its 404 permit.

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Additionally, the Line 3 Replacement Project included a first-of-its kind Tribal Cultural Resource Survey led by the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa who managed review of the more than 300-mile route through the 1855, 1837 and 1863/1864 treaty areas. Fond du Lac employed tribal cultural experts who walked the full route identifying and recording significant cultural resources to be avoided.

But more significantly, LaDuke’s comments sidestep a larger truth: Replacing the existing aging Line 3 pipeline with one that is made of thicker steel utilizing more advanced protective coatings will be much safer for the environment and for communities along the route. It is also a $2.6 billion investment in Minnesota’s energy infrastructure that currently employs more than 4,000 men and women from the skilled trades.

These family-sustaining, mostly local construction jobs, and the millions of dollars in local spending and additional tax revenues it will bring, could not come at a better time for Northern Minnesota communities.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story included an incorrect summary of the column. That summary has been corrected. We regret the error. (Updated 11 a.m., Jan. 18)