clearn.png
Monday September 16th, 2019 8:59PM

Minnesota oil pipeline fight highlights Democratic dilemmas

By The Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — A divisive fight over the future of a crude-oil pipeline across Minnesota is pinning presidential candidates between environmentalists and trade unions in a 2020 battleground state, testing their campaign promises to ease away from fossil fuels.

Progressive candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have condemned a Canadian company's plan to replace its old and deteriorating Line 3 pipeline, which carries Canadian crude across the forests and wetlands of northern Minnesota and into northern Wisconsin. They've sided with environmental and tribal groups that have been trying to stop the project for years, arguing that the oil should stay in the ground.

Other candidates — including home-state Sen. Amy Klobuchar and front-runner Joe Biden — have remained largely silent, mindful that such projects are viewed as job creators for some of the working-class voters they may need to win the state next year.

The fight illustrates a hard reality behind the Democratic candidates' rhetoric on climate change. For months, Democrats vying for the White House have sounded strikingly progressive on the issue, endorsing ambitious targets for reducing carbon emissions and putting forward sweeping proposals for investing in the green jobs of the future. But the debate often glosses over the harder, more immediate choices between union jobs and phasing out fossil fuels. Those fights often divide Democrats and may create an opening for President Donald Trump.

Enbridge Energy's Line 3 project has generated opposition on two main grounds: that the oil it would carry would aggravate climate change and that it would risk spills in pristine areas of the Mississippi River headwaters where Native Americans harvest wild rice. Enbridge says replacing the 1960s-era pipeline, which is increasingly prone to corrosion and cracking, will be safer for the environment while allowing it to restore the line's original capacity and ensure reliable deliveries to refineries. Labor unions, once the bedrock of Democrats' support in northern Minnesota, backed the plan on the promise it will create scores of new jobs.

Regulators in Canada, North Dakota and Wisconsin have given the necessary approvals, and some work on those segments already has been completed. In Minnesota, the Calgary, Alberta-based Enbridge is still waiting for permits while court challenges play out.

While it waits, the pipeline has become a political weapon. Democrats and Republicans in Minnesota are in a tug of war over working-class, rural voters needed to win statewide. Trump won enough of those voters to come within just 1.52 percentage points — fewer than 45,000 votes — of beating Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016. He has said repeatedly he intends to win Minnesota in 2020, something not done by a Republican since Richard Nixon in 1972.

While Trump hasn't taken a specific stand on Line 3, he's made it clear that he's all for oil pipelines. Soon after taking office, he signed executive actions to advance the highly disputed Keystone XL and Dakota Access projects, vowing, "From now on we are going to start making pipelines in the United States." He backed that up in April with more orders to assert presidential power over cross-border pipelines and to make it harder for states to block them over environmental concerns.

Some Democratic candidates have been eager to draw a contrast. Sanders, a Vermont senator, was the first to come out against Line 3. In January, he tweeted a video of himself listening to indigenous activists about the proposal and wrote: "The dangerous Line 3 pipeline in Minnesota would send a million barrels of tar sands oil — the dirtiest fossil fuel in the world — through the headwaters of the Mississippi River, tribal treaty lands and sacred wild rice beds. It must be stopped."

Warren, a senator from Massachusetts, weighed in just ahead of a recent visit to Minnesota by tweeting: "The Line 3 pipeline would threaten Minnesota's public waters, lands, and agricultural areas important to several Tribal Nations. I'm with @MN_350 and Minnesota organizers fighting to #StopLine3 and protect our environment."

She was referring to MN350, a climate change group that's part of the opposition. Its spokesman, Brent Benson, called on other candidates who've spoken out against climate change to oppose Line 3, too.

"It's folly to be promoting fossil fuel infrastructure in the middle of a climate crisis," Benson said. "Presidential candidates have an opportunity and a duty to point that out."

Other Democrats have not taken clear positions on the project. The campaigns of Biden and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg did not respond to repeated requests for comment. A spokesman for Sen. Kamala Harris of California didn't address whether she has a position on Line 3, but pointed out that she opposed the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

Klobuchar has also avoided taking a position. She has said she wants to ensure a thorough environmental and scientific review to determine if the Line 3 project should move forward. Minnesota regulators signed off on the main environmental review last year, although an appeals court has ordered additional study on the potential impacts to the Lake Superior watershed. But she recently returned $5,600 in donations from an Enbridge project manager after a liberal watchdog group, the Public Accountability Initiative, revealed them.

In contrast to the divided Democrats, Minnesota Republicans have made it clear that they support Line 3, and that they see it as a winning strategy for 2020, coupled with other issues that split Democrats along ideological and geographic lines, such as copper-nickel mining in northeastern Minnesota.

Just before her visit to Minnesota, Warren also tweeted her opposition to a proposed Twin Metals mine near Ely. Like her position against Line 3, it drew an angry response from labor unions.

"Why would you want to be against something that will create so many jobs, and living (wage) jobs, within an area that desperately needs it?" Mike Syversrud, president of the Iron Range Building and Construction Trades Council, told the online news site MinnPost.

When Republican Jason Lewis launched his U.S. Senate campaign at the Minnesota State Fair, the former congressman said he would focus on greater Minnesota — the mostly rural part outside the Minneapolis-St. Paul area — to make up for Democratic strength in the cities. He highlighted the 8th Congressional District, which covers northeastern Minnesota and has swung from blue to red. Lewis said Trump's campaign is "dead serious about Minnesota," and that he expects it to follow the same strategy.

"Greater Minnesota is turning red, deep red. ... I don't know how a Democrat's going to win the 8th District promising to give pink slips to every trade union member on the Iron Range, promising to stop Enbridge, to stop copper mining, to stop logging, to stop people from having jobs on the Iron Range," Lewis said.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, AP Business, AP Elections - Political Conventions, AP Elections - Campaigns, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Agriculture, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Jerry Jones: Prescott deal near as Cowboys top Giants 35-17
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says a deal is "imminent" with Dak Prescott after the star quarterback tied a career high with four touchdown passes in a 35-17 win over the New York Giants
11:56PM ( 37 minutes ago )
Hong Kong tells US to stay out, students form protest chains
Thousands of students formed human chains in schools across Hong Kong to show solidarity after violent weekend clashes to push for democratic reforms
11:52PM ( 42 minutes ago )
Brady starts his 20th season by beating Steelers 33-3
Forty-two year-old Tom Brady began his 20th NFL season by leading the defending Super Bowl champions to a 33-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers
11:36PM ( 58 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Plan for Taliban meeting latest bold Trump gamble to unravel
Trump's weekend tweet canceling secret meetings at Camp David with the Taliban and Afghan leaders is the latest example of a president willing to take a big risk in pursuit of a foreign policy victory only to see it dashed
9:19PM ( 3 hours ago )
AP Explains: How Trump upended US-Taliban peace talks
AP Explains: How Trump upended US-Taliban talks on Afghanistan and ending America's longest war
8:44PM ( 3 hours ago )
In Alabama, Sen. Doug Jones kicks off 2020 reelection bid
U.S. Sen. Doug Jones, who pulled off an upset victory in Alabama two years ago, is kicking off his reelection bid
8:32PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Elections
Biden in lead, but does campaign have enthusiasm to keep it?
Joe Biden struggles to inspire public support to back up his front-runner status in the Democratic presidential race
11:41AM ( 12 hours ago )
In NH, Biden lacks enthusiasm to match front-runner status
Joe Biden struggles to inspire public support to back up his front-runner status in the Democratic presidential race
7:43AM ( 16 hours ago )
China's trade with US shrinks as tariff war worsens
China's trade with the United States falls as they prepare for negotiations with no sign of progress toward ending a worsening tariff war that threatens global economic growth
7:33AM ( 17 hours ago )
General Election News
AP Explains: How US-Taliban talks collapsed on Afghanistan
AP Explains: How US-Taliban talks collapsed on Afghanistan and ending America's longest war
7:12AM ( 17 hours ago )
Dems try to make 2020 case to New Hampshire power brokers
Nineteen of the Democrats running for president are in New Hampshire for the state party convention Saturday _ an event that provides an important chance for them to woo political power brokers in the first-in-the nation primary state
10:31AM ( 1 day ago )
Maine to allow ranked votes in general presidential election
Maine is set to become the first state to allow voters to rank multiple candidates in a general presidential election
7:28PM ( 2 days ago )
General Presidential Election News
Asian shares mostly rise as market players weigh mix of data
Asian shares are mostly higher as the week started with a mix of economic data for the region and the US
11:17PM ( 1 hour ago )
Gazan's death abroad shines light on middle-class exodus
A Palestinian's death in Europe highlights the exodus of thousands of middle-class people from Gaza Strip
8:51PM ( 3 hours ago )
Defamation suit over Haiti sex abuse claim settled
A Maine activist who accused an orphanage founder in Haiti of being a serial pedophile says a lawsuit against him has been settled
3:07PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Business
Marchers ask Trump to 'liberate' Hong Kong, as clashes erupt
Thousands of demonstrators in Hong Kong urge President Donald Trump to "liberate" the semiautonomous Chinese territory during a peaceful march to the U.S. Consulate, but violence erupted later in the business and retail district.
12:07PM ( 12 hours ago )
Iran uses advanced centrifuges, threatens higher enrichment
Iran begins injecting uranium gas into advanced centrifuges in violation of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers
3:09PM ( 1 day ago )
Iran now using advanced centrifuges, violating nuclear deal
Iran has begun injecting uranium gas into advanced centrifuges in violation of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers
8:24AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Industries
'Only animals can live here': Storm victims await evacuation
Large numbers of storm victims in the Bahamas are trying to get off the hurricane-devastated islands
12:07AM ( 2 days ago )
The Latest: Dorian speeds up toward Canada, remains Cat 1
Hurricane Dorian is speeding up toward eastern Canada
11:00PM ( 2 days ago )
The Latest: Dorian churns toward eastern Canada
Hurricane Dorian is continuing to churn northeast, away from North Carolina and toward eastern Canada
8:31PM ( 2 days ago )
AP Business - Utilities
Brady starts his 20th season by beating Steelers 33-3
Forty-two year-old Tom Brady began his 20th NFL season by leading the defending Super Bowl champions to a 33-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers
12:26AM ( 8 minutes ago )
Jerry Jones: Prescott deal near as Cowboys top Giants 35-17
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says a deal is "imminent" with Dak Prescott after the star quarterback tied a career high with four touchdown passes in a 35-17 win over the New York Giants
11:56PM ( 38 minutes ago )
Hong Kong tells US to stay out, students form protest chains
Thousands of students formed human chains in schools across Hong Kong to show solidarity after violent weekend clashes to push for democratic reforms
11:52PM ( 42 minutes ago )
19 Slams: Nadal stops Medvedev comeback bid to win US Open
Rafael Nadal has won his 19th Grand Slam title by edging Daniil Medvedev in a five-set thriller of a U.S. Open final
11:31PM ( 1 hour ago )
Asian shares mostly rise as market players weigh mix of data
Asian shares are mostly higher as the week started with a mix of economic data for the region and the US
11:17PM ( 1 hour ago )