Gov. Tim Walz (D-MN) announced Tuesday morning that he would refile an appeal against the controversial Enbridge Line 3 replacement project.
Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) unanimously approved of granting Enbridge a certificate of need to move forward with the project last summer. But former Gov. Mark Dayton (D-MN) made a last-minute appeal of the project through his Department of Commerce before leaving office.
Dayton’s appeal was dismissed by the Minnesota Court of Appeals on February 5 because the court found that his petition was made “prematurely.” That decision granted Walz 20 days to decide between refiling the appeal or allowing the project to move forward.
On Tuesday, Walz announced that he would follow his predecessor in petitioning the project.
“Today, [Department of Commerce] will petition the PUC to reconsider its decision on the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline Replacement Project, continuing a process begun by the Dayton administration,” Walz said in a statement. “Projects that impact our environment and economy must follow the process, the law, and the science.”
Walz went on to say that projects “like these don’t just need a building permit to go forward, they also need a social permit.”
“Over the past month, my administration has met with groups on all sides of this issue and Minnesotans deserve clarity in the law,” he said.
Today, @MNCommerce will petition the PUC to reconsider its decision on the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline Replacement Project, continuing a process begun by the Dayton Administration. Projects that impact our environment and economy must follow the process, the law, and the science.
— Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) February 12, 2019
House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) released a statement shortly after Walz’s announcement, saying the governor “is choosing today to stand on the side of extreme environmentalists who occupy his office, shut down meetings, and commit felonies because they refuse to accept that pipelines are the safest way to transport oil.”
“Governor Walz campaigned on a vision of ‘One Minnesota,’ but he is throwing up unnecessary roadblocks that once again delay jobs for Minnesota laborers and property tax revenue for communities across northern Minnesota,” Daudt said. “Minnesotans are waiting for these jobs. Minnesota communities are waiting for this property tax revenue. Minnesota needs this project. Let’s get it done.”
Enbridge called Walz’s announcement “unfortunate,” but said its “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 on the Line 3 Replacement project.”
“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 said. “Enbridge believes the commission will deny petitions for reconsideration as they have in the past.”
Walz was facing significant public pressure to oppose the project leading up to his Tuesday announcement. Both his inaugural reception at the State Capitol and inaugural ball were disrupted by anti-Line 3 protesters. He later received letters from Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05) and the DFL American Indian Outreach Group asking him to oppose the project. One group of protesters even got themselves arrested after attempting to disable an Enbridge pipeline in northern Minnesota.
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