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Regional View: Minnesotans need civility, not a staged 'revolution'

From the column: "Rewarding incivility ultimately leads to unsound policies. Consider the incivility being directed at modernizing Line 3."

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Activists sit on and around construction equipment while occupying an Enbridge Line 3 pump station near Park Rapids, Minn., on Monday, June 7, 2021. (Evan Frost / MPR News)

Recent actions in Congress have furthered the notion that bowing to extreme ideologies is not a sound basis for developing public policies — or at least policies that will lift up all Americans, especially those in Minnesota struggling to make ends meet or living on fixed incomes.

Perhaps Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said it best when opining on the future of energy production in our region and across the country: “For us to be the superpower of the world, for us to have the economy we have and the opportunities we have, we have to be self-reliant. … You cannot move yourself or the environment to a cleaner environment by elimination. I believe you do it by innovation.”

Yet, consider how this statesmanship is at odds with the daily partisanship we see around us. Just recently, a few members of the U.S. House of Representatives provided a stage to anti-business extremists based in Minnesota who advocate for direct action against critical energy infrastructure.

Direct action is a nice euphemism for placing workers, citizens, and the environment at risk by sabotaging critical energy infrastructure, torching construction equipment, and endangering union workers.

One wonders if future “direct action” will emulate the success of Russian hackers who shut down the Colonial Pipeline, causing gas shortages and price increases across the country.

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Unfortunately, placating extremists only emboldens their demands, and rewarding incivility ultimately leads to unsound policies. Consider the incivility being directed at modernizing Line 3, a critical pipeline that supplies Minnesotans with affordable, reliable, and environmentally positive energy.

For example, the recent threat by extreme activist Winona LaDuke to bring civil unrest to Minnesota is not a value that should be emulated — particularly when groups like hers and 350Seattle are busing in people from across the country to foment hate. The recklessness of LaDuke has already led her to predict that more than 1,000 people will be arrested in Minnesota.

This hyper-partisan effort by people willing to selfishly promote their narrow and factually dubious ideological agenda over the needs of hard-working Minnesotans is designed to manufacture headlines and alternative facts about the most-studied pipeline in the history of the state. After more than six years, consultations with 43 tribes, 70 public hearings with more than 9,000 participants, and 13,500 pages of environmental analysis, the only option available is for activists who have the time and money to travel long distances to cause trouble.

Those who set out to block modernizing essential infrastructure are deliberately trying to eliminate affordable, reliable, and environmentally improved energy resources. They offer no workable alternative to help Minnesotans keep their costs down as we recover from the pandemic-induced economic shutdown.

This is why small businesses, labor unions, and citizens across the state have taken the “Respect Minnesota” pledge. It’s important to encourage free speech and a safe environment for everyone. Minnesotans deserve better from both residents and visitors who wish to voice their opinions on critical energy infrastructure.

Chris Ventura of Columbus, Ohio, is the Midwest director of Consumer Energy Alliance (consumerenergyalliance.org), a nonprofit that advocates for affordable reliable energy. He wrote this exclusively for the News Tribune.

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Chris Ventura

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