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What Enbridge Line 3 project means for union workers and Native American community

Dec 02, 2020 05:45AM ● By Editor
Photo: KBJR-TV

By Emma Quinn of KBJR-TV - December 1, 2020

Enbridge's Line 3 pipeline replacement project is officially underway after Minnesota regulators gave the green light Monday.

The crude oil project is the largest construction project in Minnesota state history with roughly 42,000 workers being called in.

Local union representatives are excited about what that means for the region's workforce.

"It's been a difficult time economically; we're looking at a potentially really tough 2021. And this project will make all the difference for a lot of families having work," said Kevin Pranis, from Laborer's International Union of North America.

Minnesota representatives for the LIUNA MN & ND said there are many COVID-19 precautions in place, including COVID-19 preparedness and mitigation plans.

Those mitigation plans include routine COVID-19 tests for all workers and staff, mask mandates, social distancing, and following state and local guidelines.

Meanwhile, members of the Big Sandy Lake Band of Mississippi Chippewa don't see the pipeline project movement as a positive.

Member Liz Skinaway said, "We're really saddened and disheartened over that decision to get the licenses for the pipeline. It's like they're not listening, nobody is listening to us and they overlooked us."

In fact, those near Big Sandy Lake see the project as detrimental to the environment, especially Native American wild rice harvest.

"Pipelines do leak, there's no doubt about it," said Skinaway. "The waters are all connected and if anything got into our watershed that's the end of the wild rice plants."

And while local workers could start as early as next week those in opposition said they'll keep fighting it.

Enbridge released the following statement Tuesday:

"Line 3 construction has begun across Minnesota – putting to work thousands of mostly local union workers. 

Safety is our top priority.  To protect our team, workers and surrounding communities, Enbridge has instituted strict and industry-leading coronavirus testing and screening protocols for workers.   These include repeated, regular COVID-19 testing and daily health and temperature screenings, as well as required on-site safety protocols like wearing masks, observing strict physical distancing, and regularly sanitizing work areas.  We will continue to follow the latest guidance provided by local, federal and international public-health and government authorities to protect workers and communities. 

As they start on Line 3 each worker also goes through significant onboarding including project safety training, cultural awareness training, and human trafficking awareness training.

Line 3 can now begin to be an economic boost for counties, small businesses, Native American communities, and union members.  The workforce will ramp up as construction continues eventually creating over 4,000 family-sustaining, mostly local construction jobs, millions of dollars in local spending and additional tax revenues at a time when Northern Minnesota needs it most.

The replacement of Line 3 is a safety and maintenance focused $2.6 billion private investment in Minnesota’s energy infrastructure. It is the best option for protecting the environment and communities while meeting the region’s energy needs."

To see the original report and read related articles, follow this link to the KBJR-TV website.

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