FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 26, 2019
CONTACT: Kevin Pranis, 612-224-6464, [email protected]
Minnesota’s Infrastructure Union Welcomes Final Approval of Certificate of Need, Tribal Economic Opportunity Plan for Line 3 Replacement Pipeline
Commission Reaffirms Need to Replace Deteriorating Pipeline and Approves $100M Investment in Jobs, Business Opportunities for Tribal Members
Saint Paul, MN – LIUNA Minnesota & North Dakota, Minnesota’s infrastructure union, which represents more than 12,000 skilled construction Laborers, applauded today's decision by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to reaffirm its January 23 order approving Enbridge Energy’s $2.6 billion plan to replace the company’s deteriorating Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota.
The Commission voted unanimously to deny a petition by opponents to reconsider its decision to approve the project. The Commission also voted to approve Enbridge’s proposed Tribal Economic Opportunity Plan, which is designed to maximize the project’s benefits to Minnesota Indian Tribes as well as tribal members and their families. The plan commits Enbridge to invest $100 million in tribal economic opportunities in the form of contracts with businesses owned by Native American tribes and their members; employment of tribal members and family members in construction and other aspects of the project; and grants to workforce training and other programs designed to benefit the tribes and their members.
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 will create thousands of family-supporting jobs and bring billions of dollars in economic activity to Northern Minnesota. Most importantly from the union’s perspective, however, the project will substantially reduce the risk of spills and service disruptions on existing Line 3 and crude rail corridors.
The Commission's decision is the culmination of a nearly four-year process involving dozens of public meetings, weeks of evidentiary hearings, submission of thousands of public comments, and extensive deliberations.
Dan Olson, Business Manager of LIUNA Local 1091 in Duluth, 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’ve been struggling with an outdated pipeline and no new jobs. We're glad to see that Minnesota regulators make a decision that could create thousands of jobs and better protect the environment.”
LIUNA was an active participant in the Line 3 Replacement 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 to 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).
Dean Mills, Director of the Laborers Training Center in Lino Lakes is looking forward to provide training and work opportunities to tribal members.
“We had a very positive experience last year working through the Minneapolis Building Trades’ Tribal Trades Academy Program, and we’re hoping to use the pipeline as a chance to build on that success,” according to Mills.
“The participants were great, and many were hired by union contractors right out of the gate. We see Line 3 Replacement as an opportunity to bring a lot more people into our doors and hopefully get them into family-supporting construction careers.”
Chartered in 1968 by the Laborers International Union of North America (LIUNA), LIUNA Minnesota & North Dakota, a.k.a. Laborers District Council, is based in Saint Paul. The District Council is governed by an Executive Board and serves the members, families and retirees of five Local Unions in Minnesota & North Dakota: Local 563 (Twin Cities Metro, Mankato & Saint Cloud areas & North Dakota); Local 405 (Rochester & Southeast Minnesota); Local 1091 (Duluth-Superior area, Northeast Minnesota & Northwest Wisconsin); Local 1097 (Iron Range & Northern Minnesota); and Local 363 (City & County Employees Union of Minneapolis-Saint Paul & Greater Minnesota).
By the Numbers
• 12,518 Skilled Construction LIUNA Members Represented
• 800 Total Signatory Union Contractor Employers
• 155,357 Privately Funded Training Hours in 2016 Accumulated
• 27,914 Participants in Our Health and Welfare Plan Covered
• $842.8 Million into Minnesota’s Economy Annually
ATTENTION EDITORS and REPORTERS: Interviews with these and other LIUNA members can be scheduled with Kevin Pranis at 612-224-6464 or [email protected]. For more information, please visit LIUNAMinnesota.org or find LIUNA Minnesota & North Dakota on Facebook.