Enbridge 3 would have a major economic impact in Minnesota and aggressive thugs should not be allowed to stifle debate

My colleague Tom Steward writes today about how

State officials have abruptly cancelled two public hearings on the $2.6 billion Enbridge 3 pipeline construction project scheduled in St. Cloud today due to “logistical and safety issues.” The cancellation follows the contentious curtailment of a Duluth public hearing last week in which a mob of about 15 activists disrupted the proceedings before a stunned standing-room-only crowd.

It is incredibly worrying that debate on such a vital issue should be shut down by gangs of hooligans. To see how vital the issue is, consider this from today’s Park Rapids Enterprise

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.

An opportunity like this has to be discussed openly with as wide a participation as possible. Citizens and law enforcement should stand firm against the small group of aggressive thugs who would deny the people of Minnesota their say.

John Phelan is an economist at Center of the American Experiment.