On the Iron Range, there are a few topics that seem to dominate our conversations. These days, the Line 3 Replacement Project is near the top of the list. Over the six years it took to get the work underway, support for this important project has only increased. And, since construction began in December, its benefits are being recognized.

Like with any controversial project, with the good comes the bad. And in this case, the bad is the dozens of protesters who now live at camps near construction sites, harass pipeline workers, and hurl insults at police required to take action at the protests.

Pipeline opponents have taken a new angle and are now upset that the state of Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission created a fund through which Enbridge reimburses local authorities for public-safety costs (“Pipeline Payments: Law enforcement organizations reimbursed from Enbridge-funded account,” April 28). This makes sure there are resources available so local taxpayers aren’t forced to cover the cost of extra public-safety measures needed because of ongoing protests.

First responders who work in or near the 14 counties along the pipeline route now are often called to help when there are individuals blocking trucks or equipment. These first responders are often put in dangerous situations when protesters climb into unfinished trenches that risk collapsing.

The fact is, there wouldn’t be a need to use or require additional public-safety money if there weren’t individuals and groups threatening public safety.

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While pipeline protesters apparently would rather have northern Minnesota taxpayers foot the bill for their reckless events, we should applaud the foresight the PUC had to implement the requirement for Enbridge to reimburse.

There is nothing shady going on here. It is simply government working to avoid placing an undue burden on Minnesota families due to pipeline protesters and their antics.

Chris Vreeland

Hoyt Lakes

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