We write in response to the Star Tribune editorial that appeared in Saturday’s edition regarding the Minnesota Senate’s rejection of Governor Walz’s appointment of Steve Kelley as Commerce Commissioner. The editorial writer would have us believe that the reason for the rejection by the Senate-led Republicans was the result of the Senate’s opposition to the extension of Walz’s emergency powers in responding to the pandemic.
“The notion that Senate Republicans could punish Walz by axing one of his commissioner’s [Steve Kelley] every time he extends the power exercised by nearly every other governor in the country takes polarization to new lows,” the editorial writer wrote.
Oh really? No, the Senate’s rejection of Kelley was the result of the Commerce Commission twice appealing the decision of the Public Utilities Commission approving Enbridge’s Line 3 replacement pipeline. We beg to refresh the institutional memory of the Star Tribune.
In March 2018, the PUC approved the Environmental Impact Statement and granted a Certificate of Need for the Line 3 pipeline. Governor Dayton appealed PUC’s decision. In February 2019 Walz announced his administration would continue the court challenge. In a March 2019 editorial the StarTribune wrote: “For safety’s sake, let Enbridge build.” The delay will mean even higher rail shipments of oil that “travels some of the most densely populated areas of the state, posing a potential environmental disaster should there be a derailment.” “Walz and the Commerce Department should drop the court challenge and allow the project to proceed.”
In February 2020, the PUC approved Line 3 a second time, the result of six years of public hearings and a 13,500 page EIS. Yet, in a stunning display of political partisanship and indifference, Walz and Kelley announced in March that they would again appeal PUC’s approval of Enbridge’s plan to replace Line 3, a $2.9 billion project creating 4,200 well-paying union jobs, that will generate an additional $19.5 million in property taxes that Enbridge will pay the counties and state, in addition to the $34.5 it already pays annually on Line 3.
We recently wrote to a number of out-state newspapers, suggesting that Walz should ask for the resignation of Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley. Thanks to the Senate, that is no longer necessary. Now Governor Walz should end his opposition to the Line 3 pipeline by promptly withdrawing the state’s pending appeal in the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
Up North Jobs Inc.