AITKIN– State Rep. Dale Lueck, R-Aitkin, said he is disgusted with Gov. Tim Walz’s latest effort to stop the replacement of Enbridge’s aging Line 3 pipeline across northern Minnesota.
The Minnesota Department of Commerce announced Tuesday it is again filing an appeal on the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s recent decision to re-issue a certificate of need and a route permit for the project. The PUC has twice approved the project, but Lueck said Minnesota’s governor continues to use the Department of Commerce as a means of blocking the project and this is at least the third time the governor has chosen to delay and obstruct the Line 3 pipeline.
“I am deeply disgusted by the governor’s continued refusal to allow this project to move forward.” Lueck said. “Governor Walz’s decision puts the environment here in our part of rural Minnesota at continued risk. His action again stabs the hardworking men and women of the trade unions in the back while, at the same time, Minnesota’s construction industry shed another 2,000 job during the month of June. Minnesota’s unemployment rate remains the highest among the five states in our region.”
Lueck said his frustration is twofold. First, he said, the pipeline is half a century old and operating at half capacity due to its age. By continuing to block the replacement project, Lueck said Walz is demonstrating an “appalling disregard for the protection of the environment in rural Minnesota.” Second, Lueck said the governor’s action continues to deny hard working trade union pipefitters, equipment operators, electricians and carpenters over $2 billion of work that would be invested to replace the pipeline and construct new pump stations. The new pipeline and pump stations also would provide millions of dollars of new property tax revenue for counties and townships across northern Minnesota.
“Gov. Walz and Department of Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley continue to waste Minnesota taxpayer dollars on frivolous court appeals on a project that has twice been approved by the Public Utilities Commission,” Lueck said. “Replacing this aging pipeline ensures protection of the environment, puts a $2 billion-plus investment into the paychecks of hard-working Minnesotans and provides a stable, long-term source of property tax revenues for rural counties and townships across northern Minnesota.”
Lueck said he continues to work tirelessly in support of this project, including meeting with the governor urging him to allow the pipeline to be replaced. Lueck also has been a vocal member of a bipartisan group of 17 state legislators across northern Minnesota that formally urged the governor to drop his effort to overrule the PUC’s certificate of need approval and move this project forward.