Today marks the first day of early voting for the Aug. 11 primary election. You may vote in person at your local county courthouse or by absentee ballot.
This week found me at the Crow Wing County Commissioners meeting and the Aitkin County Commissioners meeting. It was an excellent opportunity to provide an in-person update on the recent special legislative session, and to listen to what is on their mind.
It is likely the governor will call another special session around the 13th of July since, unless we are back in session, his authority to continue martial law again runs into legal difficulty.
On June 25, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission acted on several petitions for reconsideration of the certification of need and the route permit for the Enbridge Pipeline #3 Replacement Project. I was pleased to see that the commission voted to uphold its previous decision to issue the certificate of need and the route permit.
Current law provides for a party to petition the commission to reconsider a decision they disagree with. The petitioner must show that facts which were material to the Commission’s decision were not considered as part of the original decision process.
Several parties with a long history of opposing the pipeline refiled pretty much their original arguments against the pipeline replacement project. While the rules allow a party to request reconsideration, in this case it appears this was a “Hail Mary” effort to get a do-over, or at least add another delay in starting work on the pipeline.
The only new element was a claim that the current COVID-19 pandemic has drastically altered the long-range use of fossil fuel, making the pipeline unnecessary. The Commission sighted the reality that energy markets by their nature are subject to extreme fluctuations due to variety of factors.
The decision to issue the certificate of need was based on a long-term projection for the continued need for fossil fuel production and specially not to base decisions on transient market fluctuations.
The commission voted 4-1 to deny the petitioner’s request, thus the certificate of need and route permit remain intact. That is good news and another step forward in a painfully slow process.
Enjoy the great summer weather, I am back in the hay field while the sun is shining. Please be safe.