Some liberal media outlets have sought to depict the removal of Steve Kelley from his role as the head of the Department of Commerce as a partisan jab at Gov. Walz for extending his emergency powers, even though two DFL senators sided with Republicans to remove him.

Politics may have indeed played a role in the decision to oust Kelley, but the former commissioner’s decision to once again delay the replacement of the Line 3 pipeline were solid grounds for dismissal. The pipeline is an essential project for our economy, and our environment.

According to a new study, the replacement of the Line 3 project would bring about massive economic benefits in both the short term, and the long term.

In the short term, building Line 3 could provide $2 billion in economic activity and 8,600 jobs that would generate $167 million in payroll and $162 million in construction-related spending locally. For context, this is more than the amount spent on U.S. Bank Stadium, and unlike the stadium, which does not provide a quality product, Line 3 would safely and efficiently transport the energy we rely upon every single day.

In the longer term, rebuilding Line 3 could bring stable funding for public services through property tax revenue. The expanded Line 3 is estimated to expand tax revenues by $35 million in the first year of operation from the current revenue, which is more than $30 million a year. As a result, replacing the aging Line 3 pipeline would more than double the amount of money local governments have to either reduce other taxes, or fund essential services, like police officers and fire fighters.

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One would think that Walz, Mr. “One Minnesota,” would jump at the opportunity to let thousands of Minnesotans lace up their work boots and raise much-needed tax revenue to start paying down the state’s projected $4.7 billion budget deficit, but you’d be wrong.

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Line 3 has undergone an extensive, six-year environmental review incorporating 70 public hearings, and generating more than 13,500 pages of expert environmental analysis which has determined that replacing the pipeline is the best thing for the environment. Instead of giving the project the green light, the Walz administration pretends that we won’t need the oil in the future, but nothing could be further than the truth.

Minnesotans get more of their energy from oil than any other source. Oil accounts for 33% of all the energy used in 2018, according to federal energy statistics. It’s oil that powers the tractors used by Minnesota farmers to grow food, the semi-trucks that deliver that food to the grocery store, the car that lets us go get it whenever the refrigerator starts to look a little bare.

Because oil is so important to our lives, it is crucial that we deliver it in the safest way possible. Unfortunately, Kelley’s decision only ensures that an old corroded pipeline will continue to operate longer, instead of a new, state-of-the art pipeline that is safer and more efficient.

Federal data from 2010 to 2018 show that corrosion was the leading cause of oil spills in the United States. The current Line 3 is corroded and only operating at half of its potential capacity to reduce the risk of spills. Forcing the old Line 3 to continue operating instead of encouraging the pipeline company to replace an old, corroded pipeline is the most environmentally irresponsible thing Kelley could have done, yet he did it.

A new Line 3 will be safer for the environment and good for our economy. It will allow more oil to be transported, more safely than the current pipeline. This is the very definition of progress, increasing benefits while reducing costs. Why are so-called “progressives” allergic to environmental progress?

Isaac Orr is a policy fellow specializing in energy and environmental policy at Center of the American Experiment.

This letter does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.