The political grandstanding and opposition to Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project defy the Minnesotan common sense that has taken our state so far. Line 3’s latest development comes courtesy of Gov. Tim Walz and is nothing more than a continuation of the same song and dance: appeal, litigate, and try again if unsuccessful.
Instead of trusting the state’s expert regulators — in particular the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, or PUC, which has voted in approval of the Line 3 project three times — Walz and his comrades seem to be working up new hypotheses on why the project is unnecessary. The freshest is an allegation that Enbridge’s analysis of demand for oil carried through the pipeline is overstated.
The Walz administration contends that a proper study would reveal much lower demand for Line 3-transported oil — but Enbridge has put forth real evidence of demand; the same cannot be said for the position of project opponents.
Further, there seems to be a “never-mind” attitude to the notion that it is in the best interest of the public to update an old and corroding pipeline with modern infrastructure that is much improved since the original was installed in 1968. This attitude flies contrary to public opinion: 18 Minnesota legislators; four Congress members; 10 counties; 17 cities; 30 townships; and a slew of coalitions, chambers of commerce, and companies have signed a letter of support for Line 3. Moreover, Minnesotans are overwhelmingly aware of the importance oil and gas play in their lives. A new Morning Consult poll showed 80% of Minnesota voters rely on oil and natural gas for daily necessities, and nine in 10 voters find personal value to them.
Our organization, the Minnesota Service Station and Convenience Store Association, was one of the letter signers. We have also been vocal in urging the PUC to hold public hearings to address delays in permitting and objections by the Walz administration.
Given the ongoing pandemic, hopes of hashing things out in public have diminished. But like many other business organizations, we feel that the excessive delays and accompanying economic losses will continue to mount and cause hardship for Minnesotans.
From a pure economic perspective, the project should be a cause to celebrate. In replacing the U.S.- and Canada-traversing line would be the biggest pipeline in the company’s history, incurring a capital expenditure of $2.9 billion for the stateside component, per Enbridge.
Labor unions, industry groups, and others have praised the project for job creation, which they expect to tip into the thousands, meaning new incomes and tax-revenue generation for the state.
In 2019, the Minnesota PUC also approved Enbridge’s plan to spend $100 million to recruit and train Minnesota Native Americans workers.
Line 3’s importance goes well beyond simple dollar figures. For the many businesses and members of the Minnesota Service Station and Convenience Store Association, there is real value in reliable access to energy resources.
By having access to oil through Line 3, rather than importing from neighboring states or our Canadian neighbors, our members can significantly save on transportation costs.
Additionally, transporting oil through a pipeline is safer than via rail. These savings are passed along to Minnesotans and reflected in lower prices at the pump. The constant throughput of 760,000 barrels per day should alleviate any concerns about supply shortages and subsequent price shocks.
All of these factors contribute to a more competitive marketplace, which, as Gov. Walz should be aware, always rewards consumers.
For the energy future, too, Minnesota needs Line 3. Petroleum and oil products are essential to more bio-friendly ethanol blends like E15 and E30. With Line 3 intended to serve the state for decades, Minnesota can become a leader in biofuels for trucking and eventually commercial vehicles.
The interests and well-being of Minnesotans should be a priority higher than the political gamesmanship of Gov. Walz and others. Line 3 has checked all the regulatory boxes, offers an economic windfall for the state, and is a vital component of Minnesota energy.
How is it that benefits are still being withheld from consumers when most important? Approve Line 3 today.
Lance Klatt of Little Canada, Minnesota, is executive director of the Minnesota Service Station & Convenience Store Association (mnssa.com). He wrote this for the News Tribune.