Early Enbridge data shows company falling short on its Line 3 jobs promises

Enbridge claims $180 million spending in Native American economic development

Enbridge knew it had an uphill climb to get state regulators to approve its expanded Line 3 pipeline project through northern Minnesota. To sway them, it pitched local job creation and a separate economic development plan for Native Americans.

It worked. Line 3 construction is underway.

While the work is far from over, early numbers show Enbridge falling behind on its promises to create local jobs. It says its already exceeded its promises to provide a $100 million economic boost to Native nations, bands, and individual workers.

Line 3 construction is well underway. (Aitkin County)

On June 27, 2018, one day before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved Line 3’s permits, PUC Commissioner John Tuma spoke to the importance of local job creation to the decision:

It’s like building two Vikings stadiums, “the Super Bowl of Super Bowl of projects,” he said. “That’s the big selling point.”

Here’s Enbridge’s job promise, still on its website:

Jobs: About 8,600 jobs (6,500 of them local) in Minnesota over a two-year period, including 4,200 union construction jobs, half of which are expected to be filled locally.

Enbridge website

So 75 percent of the jobs — 6,500 out of 8,600 — are to be local.

The PUC’s permit required Enbridge to file a quarterly status report on its Tribal Economic Opportunity Plan. That report includes information on all employment: Native vs. non-Native workers, Minnesota residents vs. out-of-state residents.

Enbridge filed its 4th Quarter, 2020 employment report this month, indicating it had 4,642 people working on Line 3. Of those:

  • 1,548 workers, or 33 percent, were Minnesota residents
  • 3,094 workers, or 67 percent, were from out of state.

Not all workers put in the same number of hours. Non residents worked almost 72 percent of total hours, the report said. Minnesota residents worked just over 28 percent of total hours.

There’s no requirement for Enbridge to report on the number of union jobs (local vs. out of state). The report’s data suggest it’s not meeting its 50 percent target for union jobs going to Minnesota residents.

Enbridge’s jobs plan set no target for employing Native Americans. Winona LaDuke of Honor the Earth had asked the PUC to require Enbridge to set hiring targets for Anishinaabe people, those directly harmed by the pipeline. The PUC declined.

Enbridge reported 391 Native Americans had Line 3-related jobs, or 8 percent of the total. Not all of them were from Minnesota or Minnesota bands.

Of the 391 Native American workers during the 4th Quarter:

  • 223 were Minnesota residents, or 5 percent of total jobs
  • 141 were enrolled in one of the 11 Native nations and bands within Minnesota, or 3 percent of total jobs

Enbridge committed to spending at least $100 million on economic development for Native nations and workers.

Tallying up all of its spending since its started on Line 3, Enbridge already had spent $180 million by the end of 2020, exceeding its $100 million goal, its report said. That included spending on contracts with Native-owned businesses, workforce development programs, direct employment, and other community investments.

Enbridge spent $173 million with tribally-owned businesses, most with Minnesota-based tribes, and $7 million on wages for workers who were Indigenous.

This blog has criticized Enbridge’s Tribal Economic Opportunity Plan on several occasions for its lack of public scrutiny prior to approval, its lack of clear enforcement if Enbridge doesn’t meet its targets, and its lack of targeting employment to Anishinaabe workers.

The report doesn’t provide detail on Line 3 spending with tribally-owned businesses, such as which tribes have benefited or a breakdown on the types of contracts. The 24-page report doesn’t have any comments from the tribes themselves.

(Thanks for the tip, Rita!)

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