By delaying Line 3 replacement, again, the Walz administration is flagrantly ignoring “the science”

Yesterday, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) announced they would again be delaying the replacement of the aging Line 3 pipeline by holding a contested case hearing that will delay construction in the vital infrastructure project until at least 2021. The move represents the latest among multiple moves taken by the Walz administration to delay the project that has spent the last five years in regulatory review. Unfortunately, every delay increases the risk of damage to the environment.

It is well established that the leading cause of pipeline spills from 2010 to 2018 was corrosion, and that the current Line 3 is corroded and needs to be replaced. In fact, corrosion is the reason the current Line 3 is currently operating at just half of its potential capacity. If the Walz administration truly values the environment, and isn’t simply using the pipeline as a political football, it should have never delayed the project in the first place, and certainly should not have effectively pushed the project back another year.

If Governor Walz hopes the pipeline doesn’t need to replaced because we will not rely on oil for much longer, and instead be driving electric cars, he will be sorely disappointed. This is because oil is the single largest source of energy used in Minnesota.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 33 percent of all the energy used in the state came from oil in 2018, and the slow rate of electric vehicle adoption means we will rely on oil long after Walz is no longer the Governor.

Another possible explanation, which I think is far more likely, is that Governor Walz hopes that if he delays the project long enough, Enbridge, the company seeking to replace the pipeline, could simply give up and walk away from the project. If nothing else, delaying the project will force the company to spend millions more in court fees and other costs associated with red tape, while simultaneously depriving the company of the revenues they would reap by replacing the pipeline and transporting more oil. This is essentially the tactic President Obama used when he unnecessarily delayed the Dakota Access Pipeline, a wrong President Trump has righted.

In the end, replacing this pipeline is the right thing to do because it is the definition of a win-win situation. The environment benefits because a newer, safer, pipeline will replace an old, corroded pipeline, vastly reducing the potential for an oil spill.

The economy will also benefit, because this is a $2.6 billion construction project, and considering Governor Walz’s COVID19 shutdown has resulted in our state having the highest unemployment claims of any neighboring state (Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, or Wisconsin) one would think perhaps the Walz administration would embrace a project that would create 6,500 local jobs in Minnesota. Apparently, one would be wrong.

While Governor Walz loves to pretend that scientific evidence is the primary driver for the decisions he makes in St. Paul, his actions show otherwise. In reality, Walz’s mantra of “following the science” is just a thinly-veiled smokescreen for doing whatever he wanted to do anyway to serve his own purposes. Line 3 is a perfect example.