Nominations for the offices of Business Manager-Financial Secretary, President, Vice President, Recording-Corresponding Secretary, Treasurer, 3 Trustee-Auditors, Conductor and Guard; and 9 Executive Board Members (3 in Region 1; 2 in Region 2; 2 in Region 3; 1 in Region 4; and 1 in Region 5) will be accepted from the floor at the General Membership Meeting AND at ALL OUTLYING AREA OFFICE MEETINGS on Wednesday, May 16, 2018.
Members of Local 49 are once again playing an instrumental role in the construction of one of the largest projects in southwestern Minnesota.
The $300 million Southern Power project located in Mankato is a natural gas power plant that is nearly doubling in size. When completed, the plant will represent 270 megawatts of generating capacity.
The plant was originally built in 2005 and was a one steam turbine power plant. According to 13-year Local 49 member and Superintendent of the project Kris Houg, due to the inefficiency of the first steam turbine a second unit is being added, which is estimated to be completed by March 2019.
The project is both efficient, and a huge economic boom for the Mankato area. Houg explained that the power plant’s combustion turbines make electricity by burning natural gas. Waste heat from the turbines is captured and reused to drive a separate steam turbine that produces additional electricity. Combined-cycle power plants produce high power outputs at high efficiencies and with low emissions.
“So essentially the steam power here is free,” Houg said. “They used to just vent it and the steam would go out a stack and be wasted, but now they recover the heat to make steam to power the facility.”
At the peak of the project there were nearly 20 Local 49 members working on the project.
The biggest portion of the project that Local 49 members worked on was the erection of the new facility where the second turbine will be. Local 49 members were also responsible for the dirt work part of the project.
“The biggest thing was when Vic’s (Crane Service) was here and we had a three-crane lift,” Houg said. “Some of the lifts were close to 500,000 pounds.”
Once the project is completed the plant will produce 650 megawatts and the power will be shipped across the upper Midwest.
Members on the Project
Houg originally got his start in Local 49 working on the construction of the original Power Plant project in Mankato back in 2005 as a forklift operator. Houg returned to the Power Plant expansion project as a foreman, and was recently promoted to superintendent.
“I’ve always tried to do the best I can, and take on more responsibilities,” Houg said. “We’ve got the best group of people here that you could have, and I’m just really proud to be where I’m at and to have this opportunity.”
Twenty-year Local 49 member Leon Farrow, who is a crane operator at the Power Plant project, has extended experience on projects similar to this one. According to Farrow, this project is notable because of how smoothly and safely it has run so far.
Jordan Houg is a second-year apprentice with Local 49 working on the Power Plant project as a crane oiler.
“I really like it out here, I work with a lot of good people and it’s exciting to be a part of something that will be here for another 30 years,” Houg said.
Todd Palmer, a 26-year member, is a 2250 crane operator on the project
“This is only my second project like this, and so times have changed in regards to safety and crane size, but what I love most about this business is the people that I work with,” Palmer said.
Today we are proud to announce after very careful consideration we are endorsing Tim Walz for Governor in Minnesota. We have many friends that have declared for this race or were thinking about a run. Because of that, we made sure to put together a thorough member driven endorsement process that would ensure all candidates had a fair shot at earning the support of our union.
Our screening committee had members from every corner of the state representing every industry that we work in. We invited all candidates that were declared and those friends who were thinking of running, from both political parties. We went to all of our union meetings in Minnesota to talk to members about the endorsement and get their feedback. Finally, every member of our union had a chance to vote on the recommendation of the committee online. The members strongly supported this endorsement, and we are proud of the inclusive process we put together to make this decision.
Local 49 was one of the first unions to endorse Tim Walz when he was a local football coach and teacher looking to unseat an entrenched incumbent Republican Congressman in the heavily Republican 1st District. Incumbents in districts that slant to their party win 99% of the time. Tim managed to defy the odds and win that race, and has fended off challengers every year since. He won because he is just like all of us. He is our neighbor, our kids teacher, our kids coach, someone that can relate to our concerns.
Tim has demonstrated his support for the blue collar workers of his district and of this nation with his strong commitment to infrastructure jobs, and his unwavering commitment to critical labor issues like prevailing wage laws that ensure construction workers earn a good days pay for a hard days work. He has also earned our respect with his long service to his nation in the Minnesota National Guard. No other industry in Minnesota has a higher percentage of veterans among its workforce than construction, and our members greatly value service to our nation.
We are proud to say that after winning his first race, and fighting for blue collar construction workers as an elected official for more than a decade, he is still the same person that ran the first time. Politics almost always changes people. Politics hasn’t changed Tim Walz, and we are incredibly proud to stand with him in this new adventure. We are also excited to support Tim’s running mate, State Representative Peggy Flanagan. We don’t have a long history with Peggy, but we are getting to know her, and her intelligence and authenticity are unmistakable. We don’t align on every issue, but with Peggy, it is clear that she believes in what she and Tim are talking about on the trail – the need to bring people together, get beyond talking points rhetoric, and find solutions to complicated problems to get things done. We believe in that vision as well, and look forward to those conversations along the way. Lastly, we want to point out another factor in our endorsement.
We believe Tim Walz is the candidate in the race most likely to bring urban and rural communities together. We have been critical of some in the DFL party in recent years because in our view, they have not paid enough attention to the concerns of people outside the metro area. There are some DFL activists who believe they can win elections simply by appealing to the big cities and ignoring rural voters. Our members are those rural voters, and that thinking has completely divided the DFL party. Tim Walz is trying to get beyond those divides. He will speak to rural voters concerns because he is a rural voter, and he ran and won in a rural district. Now more than ever it is critical for all candidates from either party to be thinking about how we unite people and how we stop dividing them.
Tim Walz is that candidate in our judgement. Our close to 14,000 members are the backbone of this state. They get up every day and build and maintain the infrastructure that allows us all to enjoy a great quality of life in Minnesota. We know that Tim Walz understands who we are, and we know he has our back. We are proud to get his back now, helping him become the next Governor of the great state of Minnesota.
It is critical that 49ers participate in the process that chooses which candidates will appear on the Minnesota ballot in November for both the Republican and Democratic Parties.
The First step in that process are precinct caucus meetings in your local community on February 6th. Local Democratic and Republican groups will be meeting in your neighborhoods that night all around the state of Minnesota. They will explain the process that night, and the meeting will take an hour or two. Attend whatever party meeting you feel most comfortable, you don’t need to be an official member of either party to participate.
To find out what time and where your local meetings are you can visit this website:
The Women in the Trades Committee, which is a standing committee of the North America Building Trades Union (NABTU), is looking for new members. This committee confers on a month by basis by conference call and members may attend annual or regional meetings as determined by the chair. If you are interested please send your resume of experience and qualifications to Local 49 Business Manager Glen Johnson at email@example.com
If you are selected, your resume will be sent to IUOE General President James Callahan.
It’s often said that there are two seasons in Minnesota—winter and construction season. Construction season is typically the time when Local 49 members are busiest, but several Local 49 members have been working hard on a different type of project this winter.
The Winter Carnival, which opens on Thursday, January 25th in Rice Park, will once again feature an ice palace. Local 49 members and fellow building trade union members have been working diligently in ten-hours shifts Sunday through Sunday to complete the famous ice palace.
Local 49 members Keith Olson and Sam Kmit, who both work for Park Construction, have been working at the ice palace since its inception.
Olson said he has been operating the excavator and picking the ice to give to the bricklayers who are setting the ice. Kmit said he was in charge of unloading all of the ice, sorting it by which pieces needed to go in what order for the ice castle and then giving the ice to the excavator and crane operators to erect the ice palace.
Olson and Kmit said they were nervous at first, but once the project got going they said they adjusted to the challenges that came with building a structure out of ice.
“We dig holes in the ground, we don’t stack ice cubes, but it’s working out great,” Olson said laughing.
“Ice is a whole different beast. Everything you do is slowed down because everything is so slippery, and the environment is tight so it makes operating a skid steer, excavator or crane very difficult,” Kmit explained.
Kmit also explained that the cutting and shaping of the ice was no easy task either.
“It was kind of a mess with the first cutting machine we used to cut the ice so they had to bring in a cutter to make the ice a uniformed size so it was easier to stack the ice blocks,” Kmit said.
The weather was also a factor in completing the ice palace by its January 25th deadline.
“When everything got colder you would have to wait until the equipment was warmed up to get started, and then when it got really warm during the day for the ice to melt, but then would re-freeze overnight you would have a pallet frozen to the ground,” Kmit said.
Despite the setbacks and challenges, both Olson and Kmit are excited to be a part of such a landmark project for the Winter Carnival and the Super Bowl celebrations.
“I’ve made a lot of new friends on this project and have worked with certain trades that I normally wouldn’t work with so it’s been cool,” Olson said. “I’m excited to go to the lighting ceremony and see it all completed.”
“I’m happy to be a part of this. I’m glad that Park (Construction) volunteered to do this job and donated all the time, and for all the sponsors who donated so much—it really is about a whole community coming together,” Kmit said.
The Winter Carnival begins on Thursday, January 25th at 5:15 p.m. with the Moon Glow Pedestrian Parade at 6 p.m. For more information visit www.wintercarnival.com
Very Important Line 3 Pipeline Hearing in St. Paul
We have hit yet another speed bump in the Line 3 pipeline permitting process, another possible delay in a decision. The MN Public Utilities Commission postponed accepting the Final Environmental Impact Statement until staff had reviewed a few more issues. They directed everything else, including the judicial case hearings, to proceed as scheduled while this information was gathered. This didn’t have to cause any delay.
However, the Judge then said she was going to stop all of her deliberations until the MN PUC decided on Final Environmental Impact Statement. If this happens, it will mean a 4 month delay in any decision, and we will lose yet another construction season.
Some documents were filed yesterday that indicate the MN PUC might be inclined to overrule the Judge and order that work not to be delayed. But we need to show up to show them the decision not to delay anything is strongly supported. If you are in the St. Paul area, and not working right now, please attend this meeting and wear your 49er gear.
What: Public Utilities Commission Meeting to Consider
Administrative Law Judge Order Delaying
Contested Case until EIS is Deemed Adequate
When: Tuesday, January 9, 9:30 a.m.
Where: Public Utilities Commission
Large Hearing Room,
121 7th Place E, Suite 350, St. Paul
Another Critical Step Forward on Polymet Project
Last month there was good news on this front in that Polymet’s permit to mine application was officially accepted. Now there is more good news. They are moving forward with the application process and opening up a public comment period with public hearings. They are putting forward the permit for review. As the media is reporting, this is a gigantic step forward for the project and it signals that the state of Minnesota is pretty comfortable with how things are coming together.
There is more process yet to play out, but things are moving more quickly and the end is in sight. We will get an answer on this project this year, and I am cautiously optimistic. There will be some speedbumps along the way, but Polymet is closer to a reality today than it ever has been.
February 7th and 8th are important dates to remember. These are the public hearing dates – we will need members to show up in force. Details of these meetings and what this all means are here: http://polymet.mn.gov/
Important Meetings to Determine MN next Governor
The first step in both political parties endorsement process begins on February 6th with statewide precinct caucuses. Both Democrat and Republican party’s will meet in every district in Minnesota, and slots will be filled to go on as delegates to House and Senate District Meetings later this winter where people will be chosen to go to the state conventions.
If you do not show up to the February 6th meeting, you cannot go to the state convention as a delegate to decide the party endorsement for Governor. As you hopefully are following, Local 49 has been working through our own endorsement process for Governor. I have now been to every union meeting in MN to discuss with members our options. I have to discuss this with the Business Manager here to get final approval to put forward a recommendation that I want members to vote on. I am hoping to do that in the next couple of weeks, and we will make it known to members via email, text, and facebook when it is time to vote on the members only website.
Regardless of what happens with Local 49’s endorsement – it is critically important for members to show up to precinct caucuses both for Republicans and Democrats. Decisions are made by those that show up, and those that aren’t at the table are on the menu. Please circle February 6th on your calendar and plan on attending your local precinct caucus meeting that night.
I will have more information on this as we get closer to February 6th. As for where to go for your local meeting and what happens there, you can keep checking this website – right now they don’t have information up on locations, but this is where it will be later this month.
Local 49 released a joint statement today with the Minnesota Chamber, Jobs for Minnesotan’s and the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters on the possibility of more delays on the Line 3 pipeline replacement project. Click here to view the full statement
The North America’s Building Trade Unions and Chicago Women in Trades hosted the annual Women Build Nations Conference in October 2017, which was attended by over 1,600 tradeswomen– including two IUOE Local 49 members.
The Women Build Nations Conference is for women of all ages and skill levels who either currently work or aspire to work in the construction trades. Whether they are on the pre-apprentice level or seasoned journeypersons, the conference provides a unique opportunity to learn from and connect with tradeswomen from around the country and world.
IUOE Local 49 members Debra DeBruzzi and Connie Smallman attended the conference for the first time this year. “We were all there in solidarity and everything we did was about teamwork,” DeBruzzi said. “We are all in different stages in our career in the industry, so it was neat to learn how everyone got to where they are now … it was very uplifting and supportive.”
“It was a very positive experience and it was all about moving forward,” Smallman said.
This year’s conference offered more than 35 workshops and sessions and was focused on the needs of tradeswomen and the unique challenges they face. The workshops and sessions were facilitated by tradeswomen and featured union leaders, apprenticeship coordinators, contractors and elected officials. They covered various topics such as recruitment and retention, leadership development, policy and politics.
DeBruzzi and Smallman shared their experiences attending the conference and the different workshops that were featured.
“There was a workshop that featured six different female superintendents, their career path and how they got to that level,” DeBruzzi said. “I learned that as an operating engineer, I could take the project management route and be a gate-keeper of safety, so to speak, on projects.”
“I attended a workshop that was about rising to leadership roles within your union and there were Executive Board members, employees at different training centers and business agents from all different trades,” Smallman said. “It was inspiring to hear about women in more of a leadership role within a union and they gave ideas on how to become more involved in your union.”
DeBruzzi said the conference also focused on the issues unions face today such as the Right to Work and Prevailing Wage laws along with what the different trades are doing to combat attacks on these laws and how they’re educating their members.
“It was a very open discussion,” DeBruzzi said. “They were asking the crowd to share what their locals were doing and it was very inspiring to hear that so many different trades are doing different things to educate their membership on these issues.”
Smallman also noted that while the conference was focused on women in the trades, there were many male attendees as well. They included business agents from different trades, business owners and other leaders in the union and business community.
Overall, both DeBruzzi and Smallman said the experience was inspiring and they encourage other female members of Local 49 to attend the conference.
“The support you felt from other women and when you saw what they did and what they’ve accomplished, it made you feel like if they can do it then so can I,” Smallman said.
The next Women Build Nations Conference is scheduled for October 11 – 14, 2018 at the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, Washington.
Join us for a complimentary financial workshop to learn about retirement savings strategies, and other fundamental investment concepts that will build your financial security. These workshops will be hosted before the Minneapolis union meeting at 6 p.m. on January 17, 2018; February 21, 2018; March 21, 2018 and April 18, 2018. Click here to learn more and to RSVP for the event.
Yesterday was a good day for the Iron Range. The Minnesota DNR announced that they have received Polymet’s revised permit to mine application, which includes dollar amounts for financial assurance. This is a big step forward, as now the state can go ahead with public hearings and move through their process to approve the permit to mine.
This news, coupled with the news earlier this month that the federal land exchange bill, critical to the project, passed the US House of Representatives, means that we are finally getting close to a decision point on Polymet.
I want to thank Polymet for their partnership. They have done an incredible job of responsibly, ethically, and transparently moving through the permitting process, and have created a project that we believe will meet and exceed the high environmental standards we have here in Minnesota. They have also signed a project labor agreement with the union construction trades, which means that the more than 2 million work hours it will take to construct the mine will be done by local skilled tradesmen and women on the Iron Range.
We are close to the finish line. But there is more work to do. 49ers will need to show up, like we have for 10 years, to the last round of public hearings to make sure regulators understand how important this project is to us. We need to keep working to ensure that the land exchange bill is signed into law. Polymet has work to do with state agencies to ensure they come to an agreement on financial assurance and other issues that meet Minnesota standards.
More work to do, but also time to take a pause and celebrate the fact that we are getting closer to the finish line.
Legislative and Special Projects Director
International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49
Congress is debating an important tax credit for Wind Industry Construction right now – it is important that these credits continue, but that leaders press the industry to ensure that like other energy industries, there are opportunities for local skilled trades to build these projects.
I applaud and support Governor Dayton’s choice of Tina Smith to fill the spot vacated by the future resignation of Senator Franken. We have worked with Tina for years, she is an incredibly talented leader who has proven she knows how to get things done. We look forward to working with her in the Senate to create middle class infrastructure jobs throughout Minnesota.
Glen D. Johnson
International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49
This year Local 49 member Gerald (Gerry) Erickson reached a tremendous and rare milestone. On October 13, 2017 Erickson officially achieved his 70-year membership status – something that Local 49 Business Manager, Glen Johnson, says has only happened once in his 15-year tenure.
Erickson is from Bena, a small town in northern Minnesota that is home to about 100 residents. “If you blink your eyes you wouldn’t see it,” Erickson says.
Before becoming a member of Local 49 in 1947, Erickson served in the United States Navy during World War II. “I was in the Navy for two years on a small aircraft carrier over in the Pacific, and I was involved in five different invasions,” Erickson explains. Two of these invasions were the historic battles that took place at Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
“We listened to a lady that was broadcasting over the radio, and her name was Tokyo Rose. She told us how many suicide planes were going to be sent in the morning and again in the evening, and you could count on it. There they would be – a whole fleet of them,” Erickson says.
It was later discovered that “Tokyo Rose” was a name given by allied troops in the South Pacific during WWII to all female English-speaking radio broadcasters of Japanese propaganda. The programs were broadcast in the South Pacific and North America to demoralize allied troops and their families by emphasizing troops’ wartime difficulties and military losses.
“She would say things like think about your family at home, and she’d know names…she had a lot of information,” Erickson explains.
Erickson served as gunner on the aircraft carrier and describes one mission where the fleet of aircraft carriers and destroyers was attacked. During this mission, the carrier he was on was used as a decoy and managed to avoid massive damage.
“They almost sunk all of us…all we had was our small carriers and destroyers and there was probably around a dozen aircraft carriers,” Erickson said. “But we went off as a kind of decoy because we had an admiral on board. So we took off and avoided most of the attack.”
After serving his two years in the Navy, Erickson returned home to Minnesota to find work. He began working in Deer River, Minnesota for Guthery Construction in 1946.
“I was first put on as an oiler for a crane, then they had me on a grease truck. One day my boss asked me if I knew how to run a scraper, and I said sure,” he said with a laugh. “That’s how I got my start in construction.”
“I didn’t know about Local 49 at first, that’s why I didn’t join in 1946,” Erickson said. “But after I joined I liked that they found the jobs for you and the wages were so much better compared to other work around…even back then.”
In 1947, Erickson was working in Buhl, Minnesota when a Local 49 business agent approached him about joining.
“I didn’t know about Local 49 at first, that’s why I didn’t join in 1946,” Erickson said. “But after I joined I liked that they found the jobs for you and the wages were so much better compared to other work around…even back then.”
Erickson said one of the first pieces of equipment he operated was called a Terra Cobra, which was a crude oil scraper. After gaining more experience, Erickson says he began operating “Super C’s”.
“The Super C’s were really wicked because they had steering clutches and you’d have to pull a steering clutch every time you wanted to change directions, depending on whether you were going up or down a hill,” Erickson explains. “There was no driving wheel, just levers, and you’d just coast along because there was no steering.”
One of the major projects Erickson worked on early in his career was the Garrison Dam in North Dakota. “I was there for two years and I operated the Terra Cobra out on that project.”
In 1949, Erickson began working for a contractor near Fargo, where he operated an electric scraper.
“They had little buttons you’d push to steer with and buttons to operate the scraper,” Erickson says. “That was new technology for its day and it was really nice.”
“I was in North Dakota for a quite a bit…see I was a beginner and they sent the beginners outward,” he laughs.
Erickson eventually returned to St. Paul in 1950, where he found a job that worked all year long. “It was a 70-hour job and we got double time back then… so I’ll tell ya, other guys wanted my job.”
Erickson stayed at that job for two years and worked for a few other contractors from 1953 through 1957. In 1957, Peter Lametti Construction Company hired Erickson on as a mechanic and he stayed there for 20 years.
“I started as a mechanic in their shop, but after two years Peter came out and told me I was his new master mechanic,” Erickson said. “I stayed there as master mechanic and I was in charge of all of the equipment in the shop.”
“Then one day he told me that I was his new superintendent,” Erickson laughs. “For a time I was overseeing the other operators, but I didn’t really like that work, and eventually returned to master mechanic.”
In 1978, Erickson left Peter Lametti Construction Company and began working at Acton Construction as a field mechanic for cranes. Through this position he was able to work all over the United States repairing cranes. Erickson ended his career with Acton when he retired in 1990.
Erickson says that he’s been proud to be a 49er throughout his life, and has even helped his son Rick Erickson become a member of Local 49.
Gerald Erickson was honored during the October 2017 Minneapolis union meeting, where he received his 70-year pin.
Yesterday in St. Paul, the MN Public Utilities Commission (MNPUC) ruled the Line 3 Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) inadequate. They ordered state agencies to further study a narrow set of new items and placed a new requirement for completion of cultural surveys before construction can begin. This action went against the recommendations of their own staff, and an exhaustive report compiled by the administrative law judge (ALJ) assigned to review the data. Staff and the ALJ recommended that the factual record indicated the FEIS was adequate.
This in our view is yet another example of an unreasonable decision by the MNPUC that gives the appearance of bias regarding pipeline permitting. Sadly, this was not a surprise. When pipeline protestors asked the MNPUC to bi-furcate the Sandpiper Pipeline routing and need permits, a process specifically laid out in state law, the Commission granted their request. They did so even though they were advised their actions were illegal. Months later a court ruled the MNPUC had acted illegally, and reversed their decision.
Time and again, the MNPUC has changed their own past practice and legal process to accommodate the wishes of anti-pipeline activists. This has resulted in delay after delay of critical decision points. All of these delays in our opinion directly led to the withdrawal of the Sandpiper pipeline project; costing our members thousands of jobs, and the people of northern Minnesota much needed economic boost and tax revenue.
It appears that the MNPUC is at it again with Line 3. Enough is enough. It is time to get serious about reforming a broken MNPUC. At a minimum, who sits on the commission should be looked at. Right now, there isn’t one person on the commission that actually lives in the areas where pipelines are located. None of the commissioners are from northern Minnesota. That doesn’t seem reasonable, greater Minnesota deserves representation on this commission.
In addition, something must be done to ensure that the MNPUC follows statutory time frames for permitting decisions. They have routinely ignored statutory timelines that require pipeline permits to be decided in months, and instead are taking years. This uncertainty is costing Minnesotans jobs. The Legislature should look to make these timeframes certain, the MNPUC has clearly shown they can no longer be counted on to stick to recommended timeframes or follow past practice.
We don’t make these comments lightly. We support a strong regulatory system, one that looks carefully at all the facts to ensure that projects meet tough environmental standards. The aim is not to provide a shortcut for companies. We don’t believe in shortcuts, that’s why we invest millions of dollars together with our contracting partners in training – our members build projects the right way, carefully. But we also believe in common sense, and in getting a job done on time. The MNPUC has not demonstrated common sense of late, and has shown no ability to get their work done on time at all in regards to pipeline permitting. It is time that the Legislature intervene to get them back on track.
Legislative and Special Projects Director
International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49
THE 39th CONVENTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL UNION OF OPERATING ENGINEERS TO BE HELD IN HOLLYWOOD, FLORIDA
MAY 5, 2018 THROUGH MAY 10, 2018
In accordance with the International Constitution, IUOE Local 49 will be taking nominations at all regular Area Meetings in the month of January 2018, for the International Convention to be held in Hollywood, Florida, on May 5, 2018 through May 10, 2018.
A Referendum Ballot to vote on the candidates will be mailed out to the members around February 1, 2018. In addition to the 5 Officers, there will be 16 Delegates and 3 Alternates elected.
There were 5 Election Tellers elected at the NOVEMBER 2017 General Membership Meeting at the Main Hall in Minneapolis, MN to conduct the Election.
Local 49 Political Director Jason George & Nancy Norr, the Regional Development Director of Minnesota Power recently submitted an article published on Dec. 5 by MINNPOST about the Enbridge Line 3 Project. On Thursday the Minnesota Public Utility Commission will determine whether to find the final environmental impact statement for the project adequate. The article below explains the thorough review process this project has already completed and the economic benefits this project has for Minnesota.
The state of Minnesota is arguably one of the most environmentally conscientious states in the country. This is in part due to our beautiful surroundings and plethora of fresh water, but is also because we are a people who see the value of the great outdoors and who have worked hard to protect it. We have put processes in place to ensure that we are able to move forward with the needs and demand from modern society while simultaneously protecting the natural surroundings that make this a great place to live.
One of these processes is a robust environmental review process for infrastructure projects, including those in the energy industry. The Minnesota Public Utility Commission’s (PUC) mission is to “protect and promote the public’s interest in safe, adequate and reliable utility services at fair, reasonable rates.” This Thursday, the state agency will be tasked with another important decision affecting our state’s energy future. The agency will determine whether to find the final environmental impact statement (EIS) for Enbridge’s Line 3 Replacement Project adequate.
Four years of study
This important decision follows more than four years of study and over 1,500 meetings with local stakeholders to compile a thorough and comprehensive EIS. The final document evaluates the effects the pipeline replacement project will have on the environment – both physical and in relationship to the people living in communities along the route.
Minnesotans have had ample opportunity to share their perspectives on this project during a public input process. Recently, the administrative law judge tasked with make a recommendation to the PUC on the adequacy of the final EIS said the study sufficiently addressed impacts the proposed pipeline could have, along with proposed alternatives. As the PUC gathers to consider whether to adopt the administrative law judge’s recommendation, we hope they will remember their mission. Because, at the end of the day, the thoughtful and thorough environmental review process has shown the Line 3 Replacement Project is in the best interest of the people in Minnesota.
From an environmental perspective, the project is a maintenance project to replace aging infrastructure, just as our state needs to replace roads and bridges, and our cities need to replace and upgrade water and wastewater infrastructure. The current proposal is the most energy efficient option for this crucial energy source. Replacing the existing Line 3 with a new 36-inch pipe will result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions than either maintaining the existing line (currently shipping at reduced capacity of 390,000 barrels per day (bpd) and moving the balance of 370,000 bpd by rail) or replacing the existing line with like-for-like 34-inch pipe. It takes less energy to move the same liquid through a wider 36-inch pipeline than it does to move it through a 34-inch pipeline. These energy savings are enough to power about 14,700 homes in Minnesota annually.
And, make no mistake, the positive effects on the people of Minnesota will be tremendous. Minnesotans are in line to benefit from a project offering more than $2 billion in economic impact, to better meet our needs for affordable and reliable liquid fuels, and to enhance the safety of our environment for generations to come.
A recent University of Minnesota Duluth study estimates that Enbridge will spend $1.5 billion on the Line 3 Replacement Project, leading to a total economic impact of $2 billion in direct and spinoff spending, with much of the benefit accruing to communities and counties in Greater Minnesota along the energy corridor.
The same study found that the project will create 8,600 jobs over two years and will have a payroll of $334 million for the skilled workers employed during construction. These workers are rigorously trained to safely build and maintain this critical energy infrastructure and they take great pride in their work, including the environmental protection of their surroundings.
The long-term economic impacts of the project will include an additional $19.5 million annually in property taxes – this is above and beyond the more than $30 million Enbridge already pays each year in property taxes.
Built in the 1960s, Line 3 needs to be replaced in order to maintain the highest safety standards and reduce future maintenance needs that would disrupt local landowners and businesses. The replacement project as proposed is essential to minimize future risks to the environment while ensuring that Minnesota refineries have access to sufficient capacity. Minnesota does not operate on an energy island. Having affordable energy in Minnesota is critical to our residents and helps our businesses be more competitive.
For the last five years, the Local 49 Mankato office has participated in collecting new & unwrapped toys for Toys for Tots. Last year the Local 49 Mankato office raised $1,600 and collected 75 toys. This year the goal is to raise $2,000 and collect a minimum of 60 toys by December 15th.
Here’s how you can donate:
Please bring new or unwrapped toys to the Local 49 Mankato office which is located at 308 Lundin Blvd. Mankato, MN 56001 OR give a toy to your local area business agent who will ensure your donation is brought to the Mankato Office by December 18th.
All money donations can either be cash donations OR a check donation made out to Toys for Tots. This can either be mailed directly to the Local 49 Mankato Office – 308 Lundin Blvd. Mankato, MN 56001 with attention to Toys for Tots – dropped off in person to the Local 49 Mankato office, or please give your cash donation to your local area business agent who will ensure your donation is brought to the Mankato office by December 15th.
On Dec. 7 KEYC News 12 stopped by to interview Local 49 Mankato Area Business Agent, Marvin Hose, who presented Local 49s’ member’s & contractor’s donations to local Toys for Tots Coordinator, Bernie Thompson. Thank you to the members and signatory contractors of Local 49 who have donated so far this year. A special thank you to AZCO INC. for matching our member’s donations to help us exceed our $2,000 goal!