FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 23, 2018
Union Members Welcome Report Finding Need for Line 3 Replacement, Argue Proposed Route Preferable
Judge’s Findings Show Need for $2.6B Project
St. Paul, MN (April 23, 2018) -- Members of the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA) welcomed an Administrative Law Judge's recommendation that the state approve replacement of Enbridge's Line 3 Pipeline, but disputed the report's assertion that in-trench replacement along the current route would be preferable to the company's proposed route, citing safety concerns and objections by the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe.
The Line 3 project would replace a more than 50-year-old pipeline that delivers crude oil to refineries in Minnesota and nearby states with a new pipeline built with state-of-the art materials and leak-prevention technology. The project is expected to create thousands of family-supporting jobs for Minnesota workers and bring billions of dollars in economic activity to Northern Minnesota.
Judge O'Reilly's report concludes that the replacement project is needed to address integrity problems and capacity limitations on the existing pipeline. However the report recommends that the pipeline be replaced along its existing route, ignoring the objections of Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, which has made clear that the tribe will not support or accept replacement of the pipeline along the existing corridor.
"We have an opportunity to create thousands of jobs while making Minnesota's pipeline infrastructure safer and more reliable," according to LIUNA Marketing Manager Kevin Pranis. "Judge O'Reilly's report makes clear that the Line 3 Replacement is needed. The main area where we disagree is over the feasibility of replacing the pipeline along the current route. We don't think that's feasible, and we think it puts a disproportionate burden on Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, which has made clear that they are not willing to host the Line 3 Replacement.”
LIUNA has been an active participant in the Line 3 proceedings, and provided the only pipeline construction worker to testify as an expert witness in evidentiary hearings that took place in November. In his testimony, career pipeliner Evan Whiteford described how use of better materials, construction techniques, and environmental practices have made modern pipelines far safer than the outdated Line 3. Mr. Whiteford also explained how large pipeline projects such as Line 3 create new opportunities for local workers to pursue family-supporting construction careers. (Mr. Whiteford's testimony can be viewed here and here).
LIUNA member and pipeline laborer John Kappedahl-O'Brien, who has attended Line 3 proceedings, explains why he supports the project. "I'd be proud to have the chance to help rebuild Line 3. If there were ever a pipeline that needed an upgrade, it's Line 3, and our members have the skills and experience to get it done safely." LIUNA members have been hard at work on a 14-mile segment of Line 3 in Northwest Wisconsin, where Line 3 replacement has already been approved.
LIUNA Local 1091 Business Manager Dan Olson explains that the case for approving the pipeline can be found in his back yard. "In Superior, where I live and serve on the city council, we've put skilled union members to work replacing aging steel with a safe, modern pipeline," according to Olson. "Step across to Minnesota, and we're still struggling with an outdated pipeline and no new jobs. We're glad to see that Minnesota regulators are finally moving toward a decision that could create thousands of jobs and better protect the environment.
Note to editors:
The Laborers Union has representatives available for interviews on newscasts. To set up an interview contact Kevin Pranis at 612-224-6464.