Hundreds rallied on the front steps of the State Capitol Thursday evening, protesting Enbridge’s plan to upgrade its “Line 3” pipeline across northern Minnesota. Robert Blake from Red Lake Indian Reservation says, “These pipelines leak all the time and they’re gonna leak again. And we need to start getting off of fossil fuels and going towards a more renewable energy future.” But Enbridge employee Steve Dahnke from Cloquet says, “We have technology that will basically read and scan every absolute inch of that pipeline,… tools that will look for corrosion — so wall loss. We also have tools that’ll look for cracks.” Officials took public testimony Thursday afternoon and evening at a downtown Saint Paul hotel, the only hearing in the metro area. A number of additional hearings are scheduled in Greater Minnesota for October.
Brian Novak from Northfield points out the Commerce Department concluded Minnesota doesn’t need the pipeline. He says, “If we don’t need it, why are we putting our pristine waters and the economies of the native people in northern Minnesota, as well as the resort owners of northern Minnesota, at tremendous risk?” But contractor Christine Davis from Minnetonka supports the project, noting Line 3 currently runs through one of the most pristine areas of the Mississippi River headwaters. “We’ve co-existed. We continue to have awesome tourism in that area. It’s a place that all of us love to go to,” she says. “I know that that’s what we’ve done in the past and that we can continue to do in the future.”
Jason George with International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 says he supports the project primarily because of the jobs: “Thousands of really good-paying, middle-class jobs, but secondarily because Line 3 is 65 years old and makes common sense to us to replace it with a new pipeline that has the latest and greatest technology that can keep everybody safe.” Sharli Schaitberger from Brainerd has a different view. “Everybody talks about jobs,” she says, “but I think they’re forgetting that with alternatives we could create jobs as well.”
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