By Dana Ferguson
February 12, 2019
ST. PAUL — Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday, Feb. 12, announced that his administration would petition the Public Utilities Commission to reconsider its certificate of need for the Enbridge Line 3 oil pipeline project, allowing a Dayton administration appeal to move forward.
The decision fueled excitement in environmental and tribal groups that opposed the construction and furthered frustration among labor and economic development groups as well as Republican state lawmakers, who’d urged Walz to drop the appeal.
Until Tuesday morning, Walz had not publicly declared whether or not he would continue the appeal, only telling the press he was meeting with all sides of the issue before he would make a decision.
Here’s what elected leaders and stakeholders had to say about the decision:
Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) Minnesota and North Dakota President Tim Mackey
“At the end of the day, we are confident that the Commission’s decision to approve Line 3 replacement will prevail,” Mackey said. “We don’t think there’s a court in the land that would overturn the decision based on the weight of the evidence in the record and an unprecedented years-long review process.”
“We fully expect that our members will be hard at work before the year is out building a safe replacement pipeline that will reduce spill risks and take oil tankers off crowded rail tracks.”
Andy Pearson, Midwest Tar Sands coordinator with MN350
“For an administration that ran on taking climate change seriously and upholding indigenous sovereignty, continuing the appeal was the only choice that made sense,” Pearson said. “Thousands of Minnesotans are grateful today that the DOC’s fact-based advocacy for the public interest will be heard at the Court of Appeals.”
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.
Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy Chief Executive Officer Kathryn Hoffman
“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 said. “This is critical because the decisions we make today will determine whether we leave a livable climate for our children and grandchildren.”
“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 said 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.”
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 said. “It’s really unfortunate that Gov. Walz has decided to side with extreme radical environmentalists and not with Minnesotans.”
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 said in a statement.
Greenpeace USA Tar Sands campaigner Rachel Rye Butler
“Today, Governor Walz has made a decision that Minnesotans can be proud of. By committing to refile the state’s appeal to Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline expansion, he’s rightly putting Indigenous rights, our global climate, and the water resources for thousands of Minnesotans before fossil fuel industry profits,” Rye Butler said. “Minnesotans have clearly voiced that they do not want this dirty pipeline, and Governor Walz and Lieutenant Governor Flanagan showed today that they are listening. Today’s decision is a good first step. Now they have a chance to stop Line 3 for good and jump-start a community-led, just transition to a green energy economy in Minnesota.”
Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, R-Nisswa
“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,” Gazelka said. “I’m always going to be looking for a win-win with the governor. This is a lose-lose.”
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 said 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.”