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Pipeline Proponents Go On Offense

The Enbridge Line 3 replacement oil pipeline project continues to languish in the labyrinth of the State of Minnesota’s regulatory maze. So pipeline proponents have formed an advocacy group called Minnesotans for Line 3.

The Brainerd Dispatch caught up with the group’s founder, Bob Schoneberger, CEO of United Piping, in Baxter, the first of six stops in Northern Minnesota and North Dakota.

“We’re just people in support of replacing our country’s infrastructure,” Schoneberger said, describing what Minnesotans for Line 3 stands for. “Specifically, here we’re talking Line 3. We just think that’s important, especially when you’ve got aging infrastructure. It needs to be rebuilt from time to time, and it should be rebuilt.”

Instead of chaining themselves to machinery and getting arrested like the professional protesters on the other side, proponents hope to generate headlines and support by touting the project’s enormous economic and environmental benefits.

Much of Minnesotans for Line 3’s purpose is driven by economic motivations, according to Schoneberger. By providing an abundance of resources, such as crude oil, he noted, it contributes to the general well-being of a given population. Installing a new pipeline returns the influx of oil to levels the region needs and has come to expect, especially with crude coming at a premium when railroads pull up the slack.

In terms of job creation, Line 3 is expected to entail the construction of five “spreads,” or about 75-100 miles of piping. Schoneberger said local economies can expect anywhere between 500 to 700 construction jobs for each spread, garnering higher wages that will trickle back into area businesses, as well.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission will likely rule on whether to approval the critical pipeline project by the end of June.  Law enforcement authorities and local governments across northern Minnesota are already bracing for the probability of protesters and chaos, if and when construction gets underway.

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