This month, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission should do the right thing to protect natural resources, bring millions of dollars to rural communities, boost local economies and provide local jobs, and provide reliable energy by approving the Line 3 certificate of need and route permit.
As members of Congress representing Line 3’s counties, its landowners, refineries and the union laborers who would be employed to replace Line 3, we believe its replacement is in the best interests for Minnesotans.
For over three years, the PUC has evaluated replacing the pipeline, proposed by Enbridge Energy, through a robust regulatory process of 65 public meetings, scores of public comment periods and evidentiary hearings. On top of the multiyear examination, an administrative law judge recently recognized the need for Enbridge to replace Line 3 and stepped in. In her report, the judge noted that replacing Line 3 solves two problems: First, the project remediates integrity issues related to the old line, and second, it allows Enbridge’s mainline system to meet current and future shipper needs.
The fact is, Line 3 is old, needs significant repair and poses significant integrity concerns for the state. A replacement will significantly improve Line 3’s environmental footprint and integrity with the installation of new, high-quality steel, anti-corrosion coatings, and other state-of-the-art facilities and technologies. A modern replacement also significantly lowers the risk of a spill on county and state lands that would be crossed by the project in Minnesota, and it has the benefit of keeping additional heavy oil trucks off our roads and tank cars off our railroad tracks. Studies have shown both these transportation methods are more prone than pipelines to accidents and spills when moving crude oil.
Refineries have been vocal on the issue. Line 3 meets more than 70 percent of demand in the broader Midwest, including supplying crude oil to the two refineries in Minnesota. And the need for a reliable source of crude oil to meet consumer demand doesn’t just benefit refineries — it benefits Americans.
Minnesota’s labor force has a lot at stake, too. Not only would the project create thousands of jobs, it would preserve thousands more. Products we use every day, many of which are produced in Minnesota, depend on the safe and reliable transfer of crude oil. Everything from gasoline to asphalt to a majority of the jet fuel used at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport rely on our state’s pipelines.
Critics of the project point to the need to respect tribal requests. We agree, which is why we back the Enbridge-preferred route to avoid reservation lands. In fact, using Line 3’s current route, as suggested by the administrative law judge, has been condemned and opposed by the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe as a “clear attack on sovereignty and tribal communities.”
The preferred route also follows existing utility rights of way and circumvents the most water-rich and environmentally sensitive areas to the extent possible.
With this all in mind, we believe the preferred route is the most reasonable option to ensure that the safe, continuous, reliable supply of North American energy is available to serve the needs of Minnesotans, Midwesterners and Americans. It’s time for the state and the PUC to make the right choice — replace Line 3 using the preferred route.
Collin Peterson and Rick Nolan are Democratic members of the U.S. House, representing Minnesota’s Seventh and Eighth Districts, respectively. Tom Emmer (Sixth District) and Jason Lewis (Second District) are Republican members of the House.