Letter to the Editor: Livings are being made along and beyond the pipeline

Submitted by Tom Burford of Bagley

   “How do you people live here!?” exclaimed a truck driver from somewhere in the South as he fueled his semi in the sub-zero winds.

    I’m sure that thought goes through the minds of many pipeline workers who come from near and far to build the Line 3 Replacement Project. Thank goodness for these people who are willing to endure sub-zero temperatures as they make their living by building a safe transport system for crude oil from our ally to the north, Canada.

    I saw these workers out in the arctic wind as I was driving north of Bagley. I wonder how they can work here! Some of them are well accustomed to our climate. For example, I saw one local Native American-owned firm, Gordon Construction, driving a semi through town delivering materials for the project. This shows the benefit to our community members on the White Earth Reservation.

    Many of these people are skilled union laborers such as welders and pipefitters who have families to support. In light of this fact, I have to say the creation of more than 8,000 jobs in Minnesota during the construction phase is good for our economy. The presence of this workforce means businesses are selling more hardware, materials, food, clothing, fuel, parts, and the list goes on. I’m told that a study conducted by the Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) at the U of M Duluth’s Labovitz School of Business and Economics estimates that the Line 3 project will be responsible for supporting nearly 3,000 retail and hospitality jobs and more than 1,500 supplier and manufacturer jobs. The report estimates that local economies will benefit to the tune of more than $160 million due to new spending on meals, lodging, etc. related to this project. After a year of shutdowns, decreased business and other pandemic-related factors, communities across northern Minnesota are enjoying a boost in economic activity, which means jobs in the community are being retained or created, and local tax revenues are being realized.

    One other economic aspect is the tremendous impact our counties, school districts and other local governments feel on property tax revenue. Here in Clearwater County, Enbridge Energy pays a great share of property taxes. New pipe in the ground means more tax revenue – for the state of Minnesota, too! Enbridge will pay an additional estimated $35 million in property taxes in Minnesota as a result of the Line 3 Replacement Project. This means the burden of taxation is lighter for the rest of us.

    If some had their way and pushed oil transport onto rail, these economic benefits would not be felt here. And encouraging President Biden to kill the project, as he did the Keystone pipeline, would only cause job losses and economic pain here in America. Instead, the economic boost would go to foreign nations, some of which wish to destroy us.

    Killing pipelines will most assuredly mean the international cost of oil will increase, and higher energy costs generally have a greater negative impact on developing nations and people of low and moderate income. Politicians like to talk about “equity.” Where is the “equity” in pushing the burden of climate change experiments onto low income peoples around the globe?

    And the hype about pipeline failures? Pipelines rarely fail. I have been in Clearwater County for 30 years and have only seen one oil pipeline disaster, and that was during a repair job.

    The bottom line is that this project is being done safely and to prevent future spills, and the benefits are immense. Families and communities are humming again and lives of thousands of families are better today because of this pipeline.

Tom Burford

Bagley, Minnesota