To the editor,
Last week, Gov. Walz's administration said it will continue the Enbridge Line 3 appeal process started by the previous administration. As commissioners representing several counties and 400,000-plus residents along the Enbridge Line 3 replacement project route, we are disappointed and look forward to continued dialogue with the governor about the importance of the project for northern Minnesota.
The official statement said "when it comes to any project that impacts our environment and our economy, we must follow the process, the law, and the science ... As I [Gov. Walz] often say, projects like these don't only need a building permit to go forward, they also need a social permit."
We feel the process, law and science were followed. Northern Minnesotans have participated through four years of evaluation on environmental impacts, need and route; there has been ample opportunity to be heard through public meetings and comment periods. The unanimous decision by the PUC should be proof enough of the thorough vetting of this project and be allowed to stand.
Taxpayers shouldn't have to foot the bill for a lawsuit whereby one state agency sues another.
We appreciate that Gov. Walz wants greater consensus on the project, but we have concerns that the voices loudest in the room do not represent the communities this line goes through or the fact that this proposal enjoys broad support within northern Minnesota. Many northern counties, cities, townships and organizations have passed resolutions of support and nearly all landowners have signed easements with Enbridge. We believe northern Minnesotans have already given this project a "social permit."
Aside from sincere safety concerns of the existing line, this project offers the prospect of jobs and tax revenue that will keep northern Minnesota alive.
Following the appeal announcement, a group of county commissioners were able to meet with the governor's staff to express our support for the project and to ask questions. We appreciated the opportunity and were pleased to learn the governor has committed to moving DNR and MPCA environmental permitting forward despite the appeal challenge.
We ask Gov. Walz to please be aware of the consistent but deep local support for Line 3. We are looking forward to construction in 2019; local companies deserve a predictable regulatory schedule so they can plan their business needs. And, as counties, we need regulatory certainty, so we too can plan and budget accordingly.
Submitted by Neil Peterson,
St. Hilaire, Minn.
A number of Minnesota county representatives signed this letter, including Theresia Gillie, Kittson County commissioner; Sharon Bring and Rolland Miller, Marshall County commissioners; Scott Peters, Marshall County auditor; Cody Hempel, Don Jensen, Bruce Lawrence, Neil Peterson, Darryl Tveitbakk, Pennington County commissioners; Joan Lee, Polk County commissioner; Neal Illies, Clearwater County commissioner; and the Red Lake County Commission board.