Our view: Just who are city councilors representing?
With their vote to support pipeline protesters hundreds of miles away in another state, did Duluth's elected city councilors embrace misinformation and put extreme environmental interests ahead of the needs of hundreds of Twin Ports families?The ...
With their vote to support pipeline protesters hundreds of miles away in another state, did Duluth’s elected city councilors embrace misinformation and put extreme environmental interests ahead of the needs of hundreds of Twin Ports families?
The these-are-the-facts column from the former governor of North Dakota , also published on today’s Opinion page, makes clear that many of the claims protesters rallied around were tenuous at best and outright deceptions at worst. So many - including, apparently, our City Council - were taken in by what was shared via social media.
And officials from Enbridge, a pipeline company with some 600 employees here in Duluth and Superior, certainly felt the council’s support was misplaced. A quartet of the company’s executives were among those who wrote what became a steady stream of letters to the council expressing displeasure in the wake of its Dec. 5 vote.
“We were disappointed,” the Enbridge officials said. “Enbridge was specifically mentioned in the resolution despite the fact that at this time we do not have direct involvement in the (Dakota Access Pipeline) project as we have not yet acquired a minority ownership interest in that project.
“The council’s actions went far beyond the call of city business,” the Enbridge letter continued. “These issues are not solved by local governments in neighboring states that should be focused on the needs of the citizens and businesses within the boundaries of the community they serve. Perhaps most troubling … is that you ignored an important contributor to the Twin Ports economy.”
Enbridge has been doing business here for 65 years. In contrast to the doom and gloom so often trumpeted by pipeline protesters, the company safely moves more than 2 million barrels of oil every single day through Minnesota and to the Superior Terminal - oil used and needed by all of us, even those who profess opposition to its existence.
“Enbridge has invested heavily in this community,” its leaders’ letter pointed out. “We utilize many local businesses who provide professional services, such as engineering and environmental work. We also work with many area hotels, restaurants, printing companies and other suppliers on a daily basis. … Many of our 600 employees choose to call Duluth home. They buy houses, pay taxes, vote, have children who attend area schools and colleges, spend money at local businesses, and give back to the community. We are proud to work for an industry that supports everyone’s quality of life through safe and reliable energy transportation with a focus on safety and environmental protection.”
The letters continued rolling in yesterday.
“Based on fatality statistics from 2005-2009, oil pipelines are roughly 70 times safer than transporting by trucks,” A&L Properties officials William K. Roberts and Tiffany Hughes wrote to the City Council. “To say the oil-transporting pipeline companies such as Enbridge are not concerned about safety, water and the environment is an injustice to them. … We all want clean water and a great environment for our families. …
“Next time something is brought before the Duluth City Council, we encourage you to please gather all the information before voting and (before deciding) whether you should be involved.”
The blowback, weeks of it now, sends a clear message: Constituents want their elected leaders concentrating on us and on our issues here, things like job creation, economic development, crime, road repairs and maintaining a healthy business climate. Important issues.
We want them supporting those people and entities, including Enbridge, who prop us up, pour so much into our community, and contribute so strongly to our well-being.
We certainly can be less excited about an activist City Council wasting time and energy on matters it really can’t influence.