Duluth News Tribune
Sometimes I wonder: Does the federal government know — or even care — that we in the Northland believe in a strong and fair regulatory process and remain committed to building economic prosperity for ourselves and our future generations?
That commitment was put in jeopardy on Dec. 15, a date that won’t soon be forgotten by Northeastern Minnesotans who fought for decades to bring good new jobs and lasting stability to the Iron Range and to the greater Duluth region. On that day, with the politically motivated stroke of a pen, the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management enacted a massive federal land withdrawal, a step that could effectively fence off from exploration and development for 20 years or more a vast, mineral-rich expanse of Northeastern Minnesota.
Doug Loon and Harry Melander
As Minnesotans, we are all proud of the many economic strengths of our great state. From our diverse mix of industries, to our highly skilled and hard-working workforce, to our extensive natural resources, we have many assets that have sustained our state’s strong position economically. Included in this is the historically prominent iron mining industry that has played a vital role in the state’s prosperity for more than 130 years.
Today five iron mines are up and running on the Iron Range, which is wonderful. But the cyclical nature of global markets is a constant reality of life for families and businesses in the region. They know today’s relative prosperity is fragile, which is why they have worked so hard to diversify their economy.
Bemidji, Minnesota (March 7, 2017) – Jobs for Minnesotans today called on representatives from business, labor and the community to voice support for Enbridge’s Line 67 Expansion ahead of a U.S. Department of State public hearing in Bemidji about the company’s application for a Presidential Permit for the border crossing and the associated draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (SEIS).
“When it comes to oil transportation, there is no question that pipelines are the safest and most environmentally friendly way to move oil to market,” said Russell Hess, board member, Jobs for Minnesotans and political coordinator, Laborers District Council of Minnesota & North Dakota. “We stand here today in support of safe energy transportation, and we support Enbridge and their commitment to safety, the environment and doing the right thing. We ask the State Department to approve the Presidential Permit for the Line 67 Expansion without further delay.”
The proposed expansion has been thoroughly reviewed – for four years – using the established regulatory process culminating in a 700-page draft SEIS that found no significant adverse environmental impacts.
Hess was joined in Bemidji by other representatives from business, labor and community who echoed their support for moving forward expeditiously to expand capacity across the U.S.-Canada border on Enbridge’s existing Line 67 pipeline. Speakers included:
• Kyle Makarios, Vice-Chair, Jobs for Minnesotans, and Director of Government Affairs, North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters
• Jim Lucachick, Commissioner, Beltrami County & Owner, Lucachick Architecture, Inc.
• Michael Stang, L.S., Owner, Northwestern Surveying and Engineering, Inc.
• Lori A. Schott, President, Avery Pipeline Services, Inc.
The permit approval Enbridge is seeking is to use the available capacity on its existing Line 67 pipeline to its potential of 800,000 barrels per day. Without the expansion, Enbridge is not able to transport the volumes of crude oil its customers have demanded, and less safe modes of transportation such as rail or truck may be required to get that oil to market.
Video of Russell Hess at the press conference is available for download here: https://vimeo.com/user15260961/review/207356102/8172e3a14f
About Jobs for Minnesotans
Jobs for Minnesotans, a coalition representing business, labor and communities, supports statewide opportunities for prosperity and middle-class jobs from sustainable natural resource development in Minnesota. The organization is committed to the principle that our state can preserve both job opportunities and the environment for future generations. Jobs for Minnesotans was co-founded in 2012 by the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council representing 55,000 workers and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce representing 2,300 companies and 500,000 employees. For more information, visit jobsforminnesotans.org, follow @JobsforMN on Twitter and find the coalition on Facebook.com/Jobs4MN.
Media Contact: Meagan Pick
The Bemidji Pioneer
Enbridge, an energy transportation company operating in Minnesota, is proposing to expand capacity on its existing Line 67 pipeline on a three-mile segment that crosses the U.S.-Canada border. Known as the Line 67 Expansion, this project will allow Enbridge to safely transport 800,000 barrels per day across the international border on Line 67. This is the same volume of oil moving along other areas of the pipeline, so the expansion will reduce system bottlenecks and increase the ability to meet shipper demand in the system.
Job growth remains a top concern among Minnesotans—particularly those living in Greater Minnesota—as shown in the findings of the Blandin Foundation’s 2016 Rural Pulse survey. This lack of confidence in the employment market underscores the importance of creating economic opportunity and jobs in Minnesota through responsible copper-nickel mining and energy transportation. With low incomes and a vulnerable economy, Jobs for Minnesotans will continue to advocate for development projects that result in job growth and economic benefits for our state.
Established in 2012 by the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades Council, representing over 55,000 workers, and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, representing 2,300 companies and 500,000 employees, Jobs for Minnesotans gives a voice to those in favor of a strong economic future in the state of Minnesota.
The unique combination of business, labor and community groups formed the coalition because of the undeniable need for job creation and the overwhelming solution to address this issue: promoting two of the largest potential job creators in our state—responsible mining and energy transportation.
Jobs for Minnesotans filled a gap. Its diverse representation provides meaningful support to the mining and energy transportation industries that a company or industry association isn’t in a position to do. In what can sometimes be a highly-charged debate, the coalition represents a broad-base of supporters who know that job creation and a quality environment can coexist.