An engineers union leader blasted an anti-Line 3 pipeline letter signed by numerous Minnesota lawmakers and sent to President Joe Biden.
Jason George, business manager for the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 49 in Minneapolis, excoriated Reps. Ilhan Omar and Betty McCollum, state Reps. Heather Keeler and Mary Kunesh, and many members of Congress for their false claims and “despicable” rhetoric about Line 3.
“I expect distortions and lies about the project from anti-pipeline politicians that are using this issue to raise campaign contributions and gin up their base to win the next election,” he wrote. “What I do not expect, and will not tolerate, is the blatant and intentional insinuations made that our members working on this project are a danger and pose a health threat to the communities in Northern Minnesota.”
George took particular issue with the letter’s claim that Line 3’s 11,000 workers pose “health” and “violence” threats to local communities and “indigenous people.” He replied saying every worker has undergone mandatory instruction on how to prevent sex trafficking. Two crew members violated the zero-tolerance policy, and they have been fired and charged, he said.
As for health protocols, George said workers get tested for COVID every week, and various incentives have encouraged many of them to get vaccinated. There is no need to worry that they will spread COVID in the communities they’re working in.
“Our members have conducted themselves with the utmost professionalism and are going to deliver this project ahead of schedule to the benefit of us all,” he added. “They have done so despite DFL politicians disparaging them publicly, and radical anti-pipeline activists threatening them, telling them they hope their kids die, and lobbing other verbal abuse daily that would make most people quit.”
The content of the anti-pipeline letter sent to the president is only two pages yet features five pages of signatures. Thirty-five of the signers are Minnesota state representatives, 11 are Minnesota state senators, and 17 are members of Congress. All members of the so-called “Squad” signed the letter — Reps. Omar, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Presley, and Rashida Tlaib.
“The multi-billion-dollar pipeline project is the most studied of its kind in Minnesota; a visit by a few out-of-town congresswomen isn’t going to stop it,” Reps. Tom Emmer, Michelle Fischbach, and Pete Stauber said in a joint statement.
“Instead, they seek soundbites. They say it’s about the impacts of the pipeline on Indigenous people, but they have not met with the many Native American contractors who are currently on-site assembling the pipeline,” the statement continued. “They say it’s about tribal sovereignty, but they fail to note the agreements reached with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe and the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa. They say it’s about people, but they have not engaged with the cities, counties, and local businesses that have already benefited from the project.”