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Line 3 supporters ask Walz to pull appeal, allow pipeline replacement

A group that supports the construction of the Enbridge Energy Line 3 oil pipeline traveled to the Capitol Thursday, Jan. 10, 2019, to urge the Walz administration to let the project move forward. DANA FERGUSON / FORUM NEWS SERVICE

ST. PAUL -- A group backing the construction of the Enbridge Energy Line 3 oil pipeline on Thursday, Jan. 10, urged Gov. Tim Walz to reconsider the state's position on allowing pipe replacement to move forward.

About a dozen project supporters carried a letter to the DFL governor's office and asked that he pull an appeal that has stalled replacement of the oil pipeline. The request comes days after Walz took office and weeks after former Gov. Mark Dayton's administration appealed the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission's approval of Enbridge Energy's plan to replace its aging Line 3 oil pipeline.

The state Department of Commerce and Dayton argued that Enbridge didn't prove the state had a long-term need for the oil supply.

The oil pipeline funnels oil from Alberta to Enbridge's terminal in Superior, Wisc., traversing through northern Minnesota and a corner of North Dakota on the way there. Line 3 was constructed in the 1960s and has been subject to corrosion, impacting its carrying capacity, Enbridge officials have said.

"The appeal does not need to go forward," Anne Marcotte, an Aitkin County commissioner said. "There is a need, there is interest for the line to be replaced."

Neil Peterson, a Pennington County commissioner and landowner, traveled 300 miles to the Capitol to make his pitch that the administration should allow line replacement to promote safety and economic prosperity in Northern Minnesota. He said he wanted to meet with the governor to better understand where he comes down on the project.

“I don’t really have a good idea for what’s going on here," Peterson said in the lobby of the governor's office. "He’s new. He’s only been in office two days, that’s why we’d like to have a word with him.”

Walz wasn't available Thursday morning, but the group was encouraged to schedule a meeting and assured their letter would be passed on to the governor.

In all, more than 2,500 elected officials, business owners. labor union representatives and other signed the letter asking the administration to let the reconstruction work move forward.

Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan are set to appear in Duluth Thursday night as part of their inaugural celebration tour.