It was good to see a good number of people in support of replacing the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline attend a meeting in Bemidji last night to discuss the subject. A wide range of views were shared and I was pleased to speak in favor of the Line 3 replacement.
I spoke about a number of issues as I testified during the meeting. First of all, stopping the line will not slow the flow of oil. Instead, it will simply force oil to less-safe methods of transport, such as rail. This pipeline is the safest solution to the environmental concerns.
Benefits also include property tax relief. This line alone will generate nearly $20 million to local property taxes. With increasing property tax forfeitures, it is clear that property taxes are a heavy burden to people – especially those on fixed incomes.
Property taxes are local and support our public safety, fire protection, schools and numerous other county social services. Preventing this pipeline could mean an increase in taxes, or even a cut back on services.
We know the existing pipeline is aging. Enbridge has made clear it needs to be replaced and the federal government has said the same thing. If the Public Utilities Commission and Minnesota Department of Commerce fail to approve this permit, I personally don't believe Minnesotans will hold Enbridge liable for a leak in the old line. Rather, they will rightfully blame these state agencies and even the Legislature for having dragged their feet on this project for years.
Thanks again to everyone who attended last night’s meeting. The input will be helpful in the decision-making process.
On another meetings subject, people from the region are urged to attend an upcoming event in Crookston, hosted by the Minnesota Department of Transportation early next month, to discuss state ditch-mowing policies.
Last year, MnDOT indicated it planned to change its statewide permitting standards for mowing and baling in ditches along Minnesota’s state roadways. A number of concerns arose over the proposed changes, which seem to be just another example of government overreach and bureaucrats tinkering with something that should be left alone.
The good news is this year we successfully passed a bill placing a moratorium on new mowing rules along state highways – excluding county and township roads – until May of 2018. The bill didn’t go as far as many of us would have liked – an all-out ban on government agencies expanding mowing regulations would have been better – but at least the moratorium provides time for the public to weigh in on changes to permitting standards prior to their enforcement.
The meeting will be 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 30 at the U of M Crookston’s Bede Ballroom (2900 University Ave., Crookston). Six other meetings also have been scheduled throughout the state. Anyone with questions can contact my office for more information at (651) 296-9918.
Red Flag fire alert
On a final note, the National Weather Service has issued a red flag warning for northwest Minnesota and most of North Dakota. The warning ends at 7 p.m. tonight (Wednesday, Oct. 18), but please be careful since high winds and low humidity in the region could spread fires quickly.