February 12, 2019 07:08 PM
Gov. Tim Walz says his administration will continue to appeal regulatory approval of the Enbridge Energy Line 3 pipeline project in northern Minnesota.
State utility regulators last summer approved Enbridge Energy's plans to build a new $2.6 billion pipeline to replace the aging and corroding Line 3. But, former Gov. Mark Dayton's Department of Commerce appealed that decision. Walz on Tuesday said his administration will continue that effort.
"When it comes to any project that impacts our environment and our economy, we must follow the process, the law, and the science," Walz said in a statement.
"The Dayton Administration's appeal of the PUC's decision is now a part of this process. By continuing that process, our Administration will raise the Department of Commerce's concerns to the court in hopes of gaining further clarity for all involved. As I often say, projects like these don't only need a building permit to go forward, they also need a social permit. Our Administration has met with groups on all sides of this issue, and Minnesotans deserve clarity."
Faith leaders gathered in his office last Friday to urge an appeal, while a mostly Republican group of lawmakers urged him to let the project move forward.
Last month , scientists from the activist group Science for the People went to his office to say the Line 3 upgrade will aggravate climate change by facilitating further use of fossil fuels.
Enbridge issued a statement Tuesday morning, expressing disappointment with the decision.
"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 statement read. "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.
"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."
Republican Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka also decried the decision.
"I'm surprised Gov. Walz is ignoring the overwhelming public record on the Line 3 pipeline that says it is both necessary and safe," a statement read. "His decision to put another legal hurdle in the way of thousands of new jobs is not in the best interest of Minnesota. The only test this project can't pass is a political test put forward today by the Walz/Flannagan administration. This line will get built – it's just going to take a little longer because of today's unnecessary delay."
DFL House Speaker Melissa Hortman and House Majority Leader Ryan Winkler released a joint statement saying the process needs to be handled in the executive and judicial branches.
"This is a process that belongs in the executive and judicial branches of government, not in the legislature," it read. "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.
"While the Line 3 project is under review, House DFLers will push to create quality jobs by investing in infrastructure, transportation, higher wages, and better benefits for Minnesotans."
Updated: February 12, 2019 07:08 PM
Created: February 12, 2019 09:04 AM
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