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Commentary: Hubbard County would benefit from Line 3 project

President Harry S. Truman, in his opening address to Congress Jan. 8, 1977, stated, "The job at hand today is to see to it that America is not ravaged by recurring depressions and long periods of unemployment, but that instead we build an economy so fruitful, so dynamic, so progressive that each citizen can count upon opportunity and security for himself and his family."

And, 70 years later, we're faced with a situation that echoes some of the challenges our nation faced after World War II. We're still in the process of recovering from a recession. The painful memories of lost jobs, plummeting stock portfolios and home foreclosures quickly rise to the surface.

Yet, similar to the middle of the 20th century, there is also cause for optimism — particularly in our region. We have a strong workforce and a plethora of companies investing in our state. One opportunity on the horizon is through an infrastructure project that will bring more than $2 billion in total economic impact to our state, including $1.5 billion from that company's spending alone. This project is the Line 3 replacement project — an existing 1,097-mile, crude oil pipeline extending from Alberta to Wisconsin.

The pipeline was originally constructed in the 1960s and over the years preventative maintenance needs have increased to ensure the integrity of the pipeline. Today, the pipeline operates at approximately half the capacity for which is was designed. Replacing the line with modern materials will bring Line 3 back up to full capacity: 760,000 barrels per day. This volume of energy transportation meets shipper demands and is the safest form of energy transportation, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation. The alternative to this pipeline? Ten thousand rail cars per day or 24,000 tanker trucks per day.

The need for replacing Line 3 is clear and well-documented from more than two years of regulatory review.

Replacing Line 3 — a necessary infrastructure project for our state — will create 6,500 local jobs over a two-year period, according to an April 2017 study conducted by the University of Minnesota-Duluth's Labovitz School of Business and Economics. These jobs will be in construction (2,100,) hospitality (2,800) and other suppliers and manufacturers (1,600.) Furthermore, the total payroll to local workers will be $167 million.

In Hubbard County, where our August unemployment rate was 4.4 percent and median household incomes still trail behind the median household income for the state of Minnesota by $14,000, this is a huge opportunity. This is money that will go back into our community when skilled workers purchase food and other products from retailers along the route. Long-term, our town and many others in northern Minnesota will benefit from millions of dollars each year in property tax revenues Enbridge pays.

Enbridge must also abide by national standards and federal laws and must receive a certificate of need and a pipeline route permit from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for this replacement project to move forward.

Public hearings have been held over the past month to inform an Administrative Law Judge recommendation to the PUC on whether to grant the certificate of need and route permit. The next hearing is Oct. 25 in Cross Lake. This is our modern-day chance to show courage, to help build an economy that contributes to good-paying jobs for hardworking Minnesotans. This is our opportunity to ensure a secure and safe future for our families. We hope you'll join us today with an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand — voicing support for the economic development in our region and a common sense project that will help us get there.