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Our view: Gov. Walz has a chance to help Line 3

Herald editorial board

Tim Walz has been in the Minnesota governor's office just a week, but he already is being pressed on a political hot potato — the Enbridge Energy Line 3 pipeline.

Hopefully, the replacement project will proceed, and we're happy to hear Walz say he will be instrumental in the line's future.

According to various reports, Walz has been asked to rescind legal appeals to the proposed pipeline, which if constructed will carry oil from Canada to Lake Superior. As planned, the line would cross a corner of North Dakota near Pembina and then wend southeastward through Minnesota. It would enter Minnesota near Stephen and angle downward toward Fosston and Erskine before jutting south and east toward Superior, Wis.

It is planned as a replacement for an existing pipeline.

Last year, the state Public Utilities Commission approved a certificate of need for the route.

Opponents feel the pipeline is unnecessary and could harm environmentally sensitive areas along the route. Those in favor of a new line say it will be an economic boon to the region, since it comes with a price tag north of $2.5 billion and likely would require thousands of workers to complete. The pipeline it would replace was constructed a half-century ago.

Even though Line 3 was approved by regulators, former Gov. Mark Dayton was against construction and appealed the decision that would have pushed the pipeline forward. But there's a new governor in Minnesota, and Walz says his administration will be actively engaged in the Line 3 process. Late last week, Walz told reporters he has asked his team to review a lawsuit filed by Dayton that challenges the PUC's approval of Line 3. Walz told reporters "the decision will stop with me, but it will be informed by all of the stakeholders involved."

Walz already has been approached by supporters and opponents of Line 3. Among the supporters is Neil Peterson, a Pennington County commissioner who traveled to St. Paul in hopes of meeting with the governor and telling him the Line 3 replacement would promote safety and economic prosperity in northern Minnesota.

In 2017, we wrote in favor of Line 3, urging regulatory passage and construction. We also hoped the line could proceed without the protests that marred the Dakota Action Pipeline process in North Dakota.

We believe in due diligence, and the Line 3 project has done it, including dozens of public meetings and the initial regulatory approval by the Public Utilities Commission.

Yes, the line is expected to pass through an environmentally sensitive region, but it joins thousands of miles of pipelines that already distribute crude across the nation. Without pipelines, this oil still will find its way to market, and of that we have no doubt. Without pipelines, rail service gets clogged and roads get torn up.

This hot potato now rests in the hands of Minnesota's new governor. Hopefully, Walz tosses it in the direction of construction.