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Local View: PolyMet, Line 3 can ease Minnesota's budget woes

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PolyMet is reusing and reclaiming the former LTV Steel Mining site near Hoyt Lakes. Photo courtesy of PolyMet Mining
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Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz recently spoke of his concern regarding Minnesota’s worst budget deficit in a decade: $2.3 billion in the current budget and potentially a $5 billion deficit in the following two years.

So, reorganizing state government? Budget cuts? Tax increases? Draining reserves? Legalizing recreational marijuana?

“The only way to do it is to put every possible scenario on the table”, Walz said. “We certainly may have to (make cuts). I have said that all along.”

He has said Minnesotans need to talk about raising certain taxes to support education.

Yet there is another option that Walz willfully disregards. His administration stands in the way of two shovel-ready projects proposed by private-enterprise companies that would stimulate the state’s economy and greatly benefit rural Minnesota. And neither project is asking the state to provide so much as a dollar of taxpayers’ money.

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The first, Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project, is a $2.6 billion private investment that would generate 4,200 well-paying union jobs and pay the state and the 13 Minnesota counties the oil pipeline crosses $19.5 million each year in property taxes. That’s in addition to the $34.5 million it now pays annually.

The second is PolyMet’s proposed NorthMet copper-nickel mine near Hoyt Lakes. It is a $1 billion project that, when operational, would create 360 mining jobs and perhaps another 650 jobs with companies and businesses in related industries. It would pay millions annually in production taxes and royalties that would go into the state’s school trust fund and support the state’s 336 school districts which serve 845,000 students.

Thousands of northern Minnesota residents are frustrated and angry by Gov. Walz’s policy decisions that have harmed rural Minnesota’s economy.

Walz should end his opposition to the Line 3 pipeline by promptly withdrawing the state’s appeal of the Public Utilities Commission’s approval of the pipeline now pending in the courts.

He also should direct the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources to expeditiously complete the permitting of PolyMet’s NorthMet project.

Gerald M. Tyler is chairman of Up North Jobs (upnorthjobs.org), an Ely-based nonprofit that promotes economic development and job growth in Northeastern Minnesota.

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Gerald Tyler

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