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Guest Opinion: It's in our best interest to support Line 3 replacement

Josh Heintzeman

Economic development and environmental safety. These issues are always at the top of mind in the Brainerd lakes area and are something we need to fight for on a daily basis. My family, along with many others in our community, has felt the realities of struggling to make ends meet and maintaining an environment in our state that is welcoming to investment from responsible, ethical companies.

Right now, we're faced with a threat on the economic well-being of our region. Thankfully, we have the opportunity to get engaged in the public process, make our voices heard and have a positive effect on our futures. I'm referring, of course, to the current public hearings taking place across the state on the Line 3 Replacement Project—a project that would pump more than $2 billion in total economic impact to our state, including $1.5 billion in spending from Enbridge, the company investing in this infrastructure project.

Some—including the Minnesota Department of Commerce—have questioned the need for this project, but the need is indisputable. Demand for capacity exceeds what is currently available and refineries in Minnesota and the Midwest are unable to receive the crude oil supply they need. The National Energy Board and Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers forecast continued growth in Canadian crude oil supplies over the next couple decades. At the end of the day, this supply will move to market—be it by pipeline, rail or truck. The Line 3 Pipeline Replacement Project represents a small portion of the new transportation capacity that will have to be added over the next decade and beyond to meet shipper needs.

Considering we live in a county where the median household income is $12,000 below the state median, it is in our best interest to support this common sense project. The project will bring 6,500 local jobs in construction, hospitality and supplier/manufacturing, according to a study conducted by the University of Minnesota Duluth. These jobs will come with a total payroll of $167 million—putting money in the pockets of hardworking Minnesota families. For years to come, we will also benefit from an additional $19.5 million that Enbridge will contribute in annual property taxes to the state. This isn't a one-time payment. It's an annual infusion of money into our community above and beyond the more than $30 million in property taxes Enbridge currently pays the state.

We cannot allow an uneducated perspective to dictate the future of our region. Safe operation of the current line would require thousands of maintenance digs and other measures over the next 10 to 15 years, disrupting our communities and landowners. A new 36-inch-diameter pipeline will use advanced materials, state-of-the-art technology and contemporary construction methods. It is time to replace the line to ensure we continue to protect our lakes and wilderness and that we continue to provide opportunities that will allow our community to thrive.

This week marks the last week of public hearings across the state to help determine the fate of this project and whether it will be allowed to bring thousands of jobs and billions of dollars to our region. I urge you to make your voices heard at the Cross Lake Community Center on Wednesday, Oct. 25 in support of replacing Line 3. The future of economic development opportunities in our region is in our hands.

Rep. Josh Heintzeman, R-Nisswa, represents District 10A in the Minnesota House of Representatives