Local 49 Business Manager Jason George Released the Following Comments:
We are frustrated, angry, and bitterly disappointed today. We have spoken to Governor Walz about the Line 3 permitting process on many occasions. The Governor is fully aware of the urgent need for jobs in Northern Minnesota and the importance of this project to our members and local communities up North. His own Public Utilities Commission, members who he mostly appointed, spent years studying the Line 3 replacement and strongly approved the permits to build the project. In fact, this project has gone through the process twice, and each time was approved by the Public Utilities Commission.
Governor Walz has told us privately and said publicly that the process must be followed, but when the process is done, and a decision is made, that decision needs to be respected and the project should go on. He went back on his word yesterday, there is no other way to look at it. His decision to appeal the permits shows zero respect for the process, or the commissioners that he appointed who ran a fair process and followed the law.
The fact that the Governor is not following through on his commitments to us and the public is disturbing. What is even more disturbing is the lack of urgency we are seeing from both Republicans and Democrats about job creation. The Republicans have stalled a $1.5 billion public infrastructure bill at the Capitol. Now the Governor has put in jeopardy a $2.5 billion infrastructure project that is entirely privately financed.
It is as if our elected leaders do not have any idea what is happening out there in the real world. Minnesotan’s are worried about the economy and our elected leaders are choosing to have political fights instead of doing things to make sure that the economy comes back to life.
When it comes to Line 3 replacement, the Governor has one last chance to keep his word, to do the right thing for Minnesota. There are two permits the project needs from the state to continue. He pledged in his statement yesterday to move those forward. These are basic construction permits. They should not be political, and they are not controversial.
The Governor has asked us to judge him on whether projects get built and jobs are created. So far, his record is abysmal on this scorecard. He has a chance to do better. He has a chance to live up to the commitments he made to this union, the first union that endorsed him for Governor, and the men and women that believed him when he said he would be focused on job creation.
We are very confident that this appeal has no merit and will not be successful. Going forward, we sincerely hope the Governor keeps his commitment to fairness and allows his agencies to grant the basic construction permits needed in the next few months. We also hope the Governor gets back to his vision of One Minnesota where everyone’s views, not just those of twin cities activists, but of everyone in our state, are respected.
When it comes to Line 3 replacement, it is very clear that the view of the people that live where the project is going to be constructed, and the views of the men and women who hope to build it, are not being respected at all.