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Area legislators urge Walz to support Line 3, drop legal challenges

On Friday, 76 legislators from the Minnesota House and Senate sent a bipartisan letter to Gov. Tim Walz urging support for the Line 3 replacement pipeline project, and to drop state-backed legal challenges to the unanimous decision by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to grant the certificate of need for the project.

Earlier this week, the Minnesota Court of Appeals dismissed appeals from various environmental groups and the Minnesota Department of Commerce. As a result, the Walz administration must decide whether to re-file a petition for reconsideration, the first step toward any potential appeal. That decision must be made by Tuesday, Feb. 12.

"The Line 3 pipeline project has cleared every environmental and regulatory hurdle and needs to move forward without any more delays," said Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, in a news release. "A newer, safer pipeline will bring good-paying jobs to northern Minnesota."

Area legislators signing the letter include Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin; Rep. Ron Kresha, R-Little Falls, Rep. Josh Heintzeman, R-Nisswa; and Rep. John Poston, R-Lake Shore.

"The way I look at it, this issue is sitting on a tee for the governor, just waiting for him to hit a home run barely a month after he took office," Kresha said in a news release. "I mean, he doesn't have to do a single thing to claim a victory. Just let the extreme partisanship of the previous governor and his administration fade away and let a new era emerge. Gov. Walz even has unanimous support from the experts at the PUC backing him, so it really should be a simple decision to drop this case and let common sense prevail."

Heintzeman, in a news release, noted, "This project will bring jobs, environmental protection, and tremendous property tax revenue to communities across Northern Minnesota. Minnesotans are tired of waiting; let's stop the legal games and let this project proceed."

Lueck said he has spent the last month "quietly trying to work with the governor's office, urging that it step back from interfering with replacement of Line 3." It started with a Jan. 15 letter from Lueck and 13 of his northern Minnesota colleagues requesting that Walz and his administration withdraw from any further participation in the Line 3 lawsuit.

"It is decision time for Gov. Walz," Lueck said in a news release. "After years of intensive environmental review and exhaustive public input the question is will our new governor abide by the PUC's decision, or will he allow one of his state agencies to continue attempting to obstruct the replacement of this aging pipeline? We are all waiting for an answer."

Added Poston in a news release: "The PUC has spent over 3 ½ years reviewing Line 3. I urge Governor Walz to trust their expertise and let this project move forward without any more roadblocks or unnecessary delays."