ST. PAUL – Two Republican legislators are calling a state commissioner’s job performance into question after the Minnesota Department of Commerce has once again taken action to stop the replacement of an aging pipeline in northern Minnesota.
A letter Rep. Dale Lueck of Aitkin and Sen. Carrie Ruud of Breezy Point sent to fellow legislators on Wednesday details concerns regarding Minnesota Department of Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley. The letter comes after Kelley’s department filed another appeal against the certificate of need and route permit the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has issued for replacement of the 60-year-old Enbridge Line 3 pipeline. This is at least the third time Gov. Tim Walz’s administration has brought challenges to stop or at least delay the Line 3 pipeline replacement project.
The Minnesota Senate is scheduled to conduct a job performance hearing for Kelley on Friday. Lueck and Ruud are asking fellow legislators to take their objections into consideration during the review.
The letter Lueck and Ruud delivered to colleagues reads, in part, “By continuing the frivolous appeal of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission's (PUC) decision to authorize the certificate of need and route permit for the replacement of aging Enbridge Pipeline 3, Mr. Kelley is acting contrary to the best interests of Minnesotans, and in particular the citizens of the Senate District 10 and House District 10B, which we represent.”
Lueck and Ruud cited the current pipeline’s age and poor condition, the projected 8,600 jobs and nearly $3 billion economic boost, new local property tax revenue and safety benefits of a new pipeline as reasons to proceed with the project. The latest appeal filed by Kelley, they wrote, represents “a gross waste of Minnesota taxpayer dollars at a time when the state faces a huge deficit due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. We respectfully request that our concerns be addressed during the joint committee hearing on Commissioner Kelley's job performance. Completion of this project is long overdue and has been unnecessarily delayed by Commissioner Kelley's arbitrary actions with respect to continuing to contest the PUC's well-reasoned decision.”