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Lakes area politicos blast Walz decision to appeal Enbridge Line 3

Governor Tim Walz. Kelly Humphrey / Brainerd Dispatch file photo1 / 5
Paul Gazelka2 / 5
State Rep. Dale Lueck3 / 5
State Rep. John Poston4 / 5
U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber5 / 5

Gov. Tim Walz ruled Tuesday, Feb. 12, on the Enbridge Line 3 issue after months of speculation—directing state government to pursue an appeal of the controversial oil line that's factored as a flashpoint between pipeline supporters and environmental groups.

Until Tuesday morning, Walz had not publicly declared whether he would continue the appeal, only telling the press he was meeting with all sides of the issue before he would make a decision.

Advocates have characterized the pipeline as an economic boon for the region, while the opposition has criticized the line as corporate greed (with the potential for detrimental long-term environmental effects) deceptively presented as an industry driver for the Upper Midwest.

Stauber speaks against 'misguided decision'

U.S. Rep. Pete Stauber, R-Duluth, made the following statement after Walz announced his administration would continue former Gov. Mark Dayton's decision to appeal regulatory approval of the Line 3 pipeline project.

"Gov. Walz made the wrong call today, as the replacement of Line 3 is in the best interest of our state," Stauber stated in a news release. "The fact of the matter is Line 3 is corroding, and the safe delivery of energy product on which we all rely is dependent on its replacement. ... This project is a win-win for Minnesota. Although Gov. Walz's misguided decision needlessly delays the replacement of Line 3, I am confident the project will still go forward as planned."

Stauber, along with Rep. Tom Emmer of District 6, Rep. Jim Hagedorn of District 1, and Rep. Collin Peterson of District 7, Tuesday sent a letter to Walz requesting his administration respect the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission's unanimous approval of the project and not needlessly restart the review process.

Gazelka dubs decision 'lose-lose'

"Frankly, Gov. Walz, on this issue you're not listening. This is an issue that we've had a lot of conversation about and needs to go forward," Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa, stated. "I'm always going to be looking for a win-win with the governor. This is a lose-lose."

Poston criticizes 'siding with environmentalists'

State Rep. John Poston, R-Lake Shore, issued the following statement regarding Walz's decision.

"Earlier today, Gov. Walz sided with environmentalists and put thousands of Minnesotans in danger by refusing to allow this desperately needed pipeline replacement project to proceed," Poston stated. "This project has already undergone a rigorous permitting process and gained unanimous approval by the Public Utilities Commission. The time for additional delays and games is over, let's get this done."

Lueck lambasts Walz's 'noxious politics'

According to a news release, State Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, said he'd hoped Walz would not challenge the Enbridge Line 3 replacement project in court, but had an inkling he would.

"I am deeply disappointed Gov. Walz has decided to sabotage the legitimate process of permitting the replace of aging Line 3," Lueck stated in the release. "A detailed Environmental Impact Statement has been completed, years of public hearings were conducted and ultimately the PUC spoke, unanimously approving the project. It's time to get on with replacing this pipeline."

Lueck said he did not make the joint letter public until Friday, Feb. 8, as a measure of good faith, a bipartisan gesture he said was not returned.

"Gov. Walz has brought the noxious politics of Washington, D.C. back to St. Paul," Lueck stated. "Apparently the 'One Minnesota' slogan is just that, a slogan. We don't need the Washington, D.C. approach to governing here in Minnesota."

Other reactions to Enbridge Line 3 decision

Minnesotans for Line 3:

"The facts and data will not change, regardless of how many times they are reviewed. The only thing this needless appeal does is to create ambiguity in what has been a clear and robust regulatory process. Minnesotans across the state are in support of the thousands of jobs and understand the impact and importance of more than $2 billion in private sector investment in communities needing help," the group said in a news release.

Kathryn Hoffman, CEO of Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy:

"Hundreds of young people have come to the Minnesota Capitol this month to tell Gov. Walz and the Minnesota Legislature that Minnesota can't wait for climate justice. Today, Gov. Walz showed that he's listening to them and that he is committed to using facts and science as the courts deliberate on the need for the Line 3 oil pipeline," Hoffman stated in a release. "This is critical because the decisions we make today will determine whether we leave a livable climate for our children and grandchildren."

Enbridge Energy:

"The Walz administration's decision to continue an appeal of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission's unanimous decision to approve the project's Certificate of Need is unfortunate. The commission's approval came at the end of a thorough review of the facts, spanning four years, thousands of hours of environmental and cultural study, and substantial public comments. Enbridge believes the commission will deny petitions for reconsideration as they have in the past," an Enbridge spokesperson released in a statement. "Our focus is on actively working with the Walz administration and agencies to develop a clear sense of the schedule for the permits necessary to begin construction of the Line 3 Replacement project."

House Speaker Melissa Hortman, DFL-Brooklyn Park, and House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler, DFL-Golden Valley:

"This is a process that belongs in the executive and judicial branches of government, not in the Legislature. Political interference and Republican finger-pointing will only make it more challenging to come to a final decision. We expect that this process will result in a fully-vetted and sound outcome," they wrote in a statement.

Minnesota House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown:

"This was Gov. Walz's first test on what 'One Minnesota' means and on this example, I think very clearly Gov. Walz has failed the test," Daudt stated in a release. "It's really unfortunate that Gov. Walz has decided to side with extreme radical environmentalists and not with Minnesotans."

Joe Plumer, attorney for the Red Lake and White Earth bands:

"We applaud Governor Walz and Lt. Governor Flanagan for standing with us in the fight to protect the rights, health, and way of life of the Ojibwe people," Plumer said. "The PUC was wrong to allow Enbridge to build Line 3 through treaty-protected lands, and we look forward to making our case in court."

Jobs for Minnesotans:

"The project is a critical $2.6 billion dollar private investment in Minnesota's energy infrastructure, replacing an aging pipeline on which the state relies for energy security and economic competitiveness. The project will provide quality jobs to more than 6,500 Minnesota workers during the course of the project, including 2,100 family-sustaining construction jobs," the group stated in a news release. "We strongly encourage Governor Walz to issue permits in a timely manner to prevent any further delays to the Line 3 Replacement Project while this appeal continues through the courts."

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