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Lawmaker's Response: DFLers divided; Republicans out in force for Line 3

Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau

Enbridge's proposed Line 3 Replacement Project spans 1,031 miles through western Canada, North Dakota, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Work already has begun in Canada, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.

Minnesota — once again — risks losing jobs, property tax revenue, and new economic activity thanks to government delays and opposition from extreme environmentalists.

While Republicans are unified in support of replacing this aging oil pipeline, Democrats remain divided.

With statewide public hearings completed and evidentiary hearings now underway in St. Paul, this is a critical time for the Line 3 project. In order to move forward, Democrats who represent communities along the route must get engaged and garner more support from members of their own party. Too many members of the DFL Party — nearly all of whom reside hundreds of miles from the Line 3 project — are opposed to the project, even if it meets all regulatory requirements.

In fact, many members of the House and Senate DFL caucuses are actively working to stop all new mining and pipeline projects in our state, pursuing a course of action that would dismantle northern Minnesota's industry infrastructure and harm our economy. Some Democrats are even working with environmental extremists who shut down public hearings in Duluth and St. Cloud to prevent pipeline supporters from voicing their support for the project.

In contrast, Republicans have been out in force to champion the Line 3 pipeline across the state, going head-to-head with the administration of Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton, metro-area Democrats, and environmental extremists. Republicans understand how important this project is, and we fully support it moving forward.

As chairman of the Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources Committee, I've worked closely with state Reps. Jason Metsa and Rob Ecklund as members of the committee and have helped them move forward legislation that is helpful to their constituents. This is why I was so disappointed to read their Oct 22 column in the News Tribune belittling Speaker Kurt Daudt for his previous work at auto dealerships ("Range DFLers support Line 3, the project's good jobs"). Their tone seemed all-too-similar to a recent column in the New York Times Magazine in which an environmentalist suggested that Iron Rangers "want somebody to just give them a job so they can all drink beer with their buddies and go four-wheeling and snowmobiling with their buddies (and) not have to think about anything except punching a clock."

Personal attacks and name-calling were an odd way to respond to Speaker Daudt and Republicans who have done much more to support Line 3's replacement than most Democrats.

In addition to decisive support for the project, Republicans recently delivered common-sense reforms for the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, clarified the appeals process for permits to mine, developed the ATV trail system for outdoor enthusiasts and tourism, and provided significant tax relief to middle-class families and workers.

As a result of Republicans' commitment to fix roads and bridges across the state, Iron Range communities are receiving a $21 million increase in transportation funding over the next four years for projects.

Furthermore, it was Republican majorities in the Legislature this year that secured funding for important bonding projects including cleanup of the St. Louis River Area of Concern and much-needed classroom improvements at Hibbing Community College.

Republicans have demonstrated strong support for policies that will help grow the economy, boost good-paying jobs, and ensure the long-term sustainability of communities in northern Minnesota.

We need area Reps. Metsa, Julie Sandstede, and Ecklund beside us in this fight, not against us. I urge them to educate the opposition in their own party and encourage Democrats in all parts of the state to help bring jobs, private investment, and property tax revenue to northern Minnesota.

Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, is chairman of the Minnesota House Environment and Natural Resources Committee.

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