Dear Gov. Tim Walz,
We are scientists from many disciplines who believe you should grant a stay against construction of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline until legal appeals are heard and COVID-19 case counts diminish significantly.
Scientific evidence shows:
• Climate change is causing severe and expensive damage to our environment, infrastructure and health with disproportionate burden on underprivileged communities. Yet state agencies decided not to consider this project's contribution to climate change.
• Oil spills from pipelines cause substantive water pollution around the country. But,the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency refused to consider the likelihood of spills in its water quality permits.
• COVID-19 is best controlled by keeping people separated. You asked regular Minnesotans to give up travel and avoid friends, family, schools and churches. Now you'll allow Enbridge to bring hundreds of out-of-state workers into rural counties that already have overstretched health care systems.
Scientific evidence alone doesn't compel us to action; our personal values do. We value human life and think it's irresponsible to allow the faster spread of COVID-19 through vulnerable rural and northern communities. We value justice and think that the mass resignation of MPCA's Environmental Justice Advisory Group in response to the Line 3 permits should result in an immediate work stoppage until you understand and respond to that group's concerns.
We value equity and think that state agencies have given more regard to wealthy foreign multinationals like Enbridge than they have to regular Minnesotans.
We urge you to stay construction on this project.
This letter was signed by 38 Minnesota scientists and engineers, listed below.*
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Gov. Walz, the Department of Natural Resources and the MPCA should be commended for standing behind the regulatory process as outlined by law, and for the diligent manner in which they reviewed the merits of the project and recently issued permits on the Enbridge Line 3 Replacement Project.
We especially thank the dedicated Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, DNR and MPCA commissioners, many of whom have spent the last several years assuring the Line 3 project will be constructed in a manner that protects the environment and operates safely. The project has been deemed safe for the environment as confirmed by six years of regulatory engagement and final approvals. The process, the law and the science have been followed.
Through its extensive scientific record, the Line 3 project has proven it will meet and, when possible, positively exceed regulations. We need to do what we responsibly can to create well-paying jobs so skilled workers are able to sustain their families and revitalize communities. This project is especially important for communities in northern Minnesota along the Line 3 route where unemployment rates are disproportionately higher compared to the Twin Cities.
It's time for Minnesota to respect the science, accept the agency decisions and come together as one state to advance and complete the Line 3 project — a $2.6 billion private economic stimulus and environmental protection package. On behalf of all of our members, we express our appreciation to the Walz administration and commit to promoting civility and respect during the construction phase of this project.
Nancy Aronson Norr, St. Paul
The writer is board chair of Jobs for Minnesotans.
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I am a front-line physician, caring for COVID-19 patients both in the Twin Cities and rural tribal communities since the beginning of this pandemic. I have never participated or followed the controversy around Line 3. As a hospital doctor caring for adults and children, my main focus is to provide equitable patient care and to consider the impact of such a project on public health.
We are very thankful to Gov. Walz for his scientific approach to managing this public health crisis. However, I was quite shocked to find out that Enbridge was given permission by the state to start construction on the Line 3 pipeline this winter. Around 4,000 workers are expected to travel to and live in temporary quarters at various construction sites across Northern Minnesota. These workers will be integrating broadly into the community, without any semblance of a true bubble. I've heard from health care workers on the front lines in these areas who are rightly concerned that this will lead to increased community spread of COVID-19.
I support the two Native American tribes' stay request from a public health perspective ("Two Ojibwe bands seek stay on Line 3," Nov. 26). The suggestion to push through with this construction project now, during the worst period of this pandemic our community has seen, is downright dangerous. There must be a way the state can compensate our workers while we wait for the cases to go down. A stay on construction is a common-sense measure to protect the health of Minnesotan workers, and that of rural and tribal communities.
Adriana Dhawan, Minneapolis
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I saw in the Star Tribune that Enbridge has been approved to install its pipeline.
As a 91-year-old, I think this is great news for the people living in the Midwest.
Years ago I worked on the railroad and had a chance to see many loaded tank cars come by, where we were working. In those days the tank cars carried 12,000 gallons of liquid, which didn't weigh that much.
Now tank cars contain around 29,000 gallons, which would weigh 286,000 pounds. When you transfer this much weight on these old railroad tracks, you are asking for trouble. When I worked on the railroad, I was amazed how much the rail and ties sunk when these cars came by.
If this Enbridge pipeline had been stopped by some people, we would be in the process of seeing some great railroad accidents.
Believe me, I know what I'm talking about.
Gene Madsen, Bigfork, Minn.
TOPLESSNESS IN PARKS
City leaders can address discrimination any time of year
Unlike the letter writer in last week's Readers Write ("No ticket, but you'll be pretty cold," Nov. 25), I applaud the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board for taking action against the discrimination of women. Yes, it is the cold season, but should they wait until spring to address issues that need tending to just because it is the "wrong season"? Does the Minnesota Department of Transportation wait until spring to plan roadwork? Does the Department of Natural Resources only discuss hunting in the fall?
While it is obviously important to address COVID-19 and related issues, that should not mean our government agencies do nothing else. They are still meeting and working at taxpayer expense. Imagine the backlog of issues if they did nothing but address COVID-19. I myself consider stopping discrimination a priority, and I am glad the Park Board saw fit to address it now.
Christopher Bradshaw, Columbus
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*Laura Triplett, associate professor of geology; Zeke J. McKinney, MD, MHI, MPH, FACOEM; Ruth G. Shaw, professor of ecology, evolution and behavior; Vishnu Laalitha Surapaneni, MBBS, MPH, assistant professor of internal medicine; James R. Doyle, professor of physics; Christy Dolph, PhD research scientist; William Longo, visiting assistant professor of environmental studies; Mary Heskel, assistant professor of biology; Jami Gaither, retired metallurgical engineer; Kristi E. White, Ph.D., LP, ABPP, clinical health psychologist; Shane Loeffler, M.S. earth science; Rebecca Walker, M.S. ecology; Janet Anderson, civil engineer; Jeff La Frenierre, associate professor of geography; Hannah Ramer, PhD candidate; Willis Mattison, M.S. ecology, retired MPCA regional director; Maggie Shanahan, PhD candidate; Amy Myrbo, PhD geology; Julia Brokaw, PhD candidate; Elaine Evans, assistant extension professor; Amy Kochsiek, visiting assistant professor of biology; Charles Niederriter, professor of physics and environmental studies; Jeff Jeremiason, professor of chemistry and environmental studies; Aaron Hanson, M.S., energy program specialist; Lang DeLancey, PhD candidate; Ethan E. Butler, researcher, Department of Forest Resources; Jane Wachutka, Wild River Audubon; Cory Cole, MPH epidemiology, CSTE applied epidemiology fellow, Minnesota Department of Health; Siddhant Pusdekar, PhD candidate; Patty Born Selly, assistant professor; Erik Wallenberg; Jennifer Nicklay; Daniel Furuta, PhD candidate; Elise Amel, professor of psychology; Christie Manning, director of sustainability; Dr. Shan Kothari, PhD in plant and microbial biology, and Amy Waananen, PhD candidate.