Walz flops on question about what his Line 3 support says about his climate leadership

I spoke to candidate Tim Walz twice when he was running for Governor in 2017, once at a house party, once at a DFL unity event at a St. Paul brewery.

Both times I asked him one question: Where do you stand on the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline?

Both times he assured me he opposed the project. “Peggy would never let me do that,” he said, a reference to his running mate, Peggy Flanagan, an enrolled member of the White Earth Nation and then an outspoken Line 3 critic.

Walz spoke briefly about Line 3 Friday on MPR. I wasn’t surprised at his comments, but still angry.

Mike Mulcahy interviewed Walz, then listeners called in with their own questions. First was Julia from St. Paul.

How do you justify the building of the Line 3, and tar sands oil that flows through it, given that it’s a direct violation of treaty rights that you vowed to uphold in this moment of climate crisis? … We’ve seen Enbridge violate their permits numerous times and the agencies tasked with holding them accountable failing. We are wondering how can we trust you to be a climate leader in this moment?


Walz replied for nearly two minutes. Julia didn’t get a chance to ask a follow up question. Walz’s comments went unchallenged.

I take that opportunity here.

Gov. Tim Walz

It’s just one pipeline

In his most ridiculous and flippant statement, Walz said: “What I would say on this, Julia, is one pipeline is not going to be where we win this battle on climate change.”

Comment: One pipeline isn’t going to “win” the climate battle, but letting Line 3 proceed makes it more difficult to win.

The state’s Line 3 environmental impact statement said Line 3 would translate into $287 billion in global climate damage. According to the MN350 report A Giant Step Backwards, Line 3 “would create carbon pollution that far outweighs any gains Minnesota plans to make on climate change.”

Not my job

Walz didn’t try to defend Line 3. He passed the buck.

“The issue of existing infrastructure, the Line 3 process, started long before I was Governor,” he said.

“My job as the chief executive is to follow state law as it’s written. My agencies simply implement what’s written in state law for permitting. And through this entire process, that’s exactly what we’ve done,” he said.

“My job as Governor is not to arbitrarily pick and choose which projects go, it’s to implement and follow state law.”

“Now the safeguards in this is you can go to court,” Walz said. “And the Line 3 was taken to court. … And in every single instance, they upheld that the law was followed, the law was implemented.”

“I would advocate for folks who are opposed to how these things are permitted to have the state legislature change the permitting process. That’s the only way.”

File photo.

Comment: Walz’s job as governor is to make tough decisions and do his very best for health and well being of state residents, both now and in the future. On Line 3, he failed.

Walz had discretion to intervene on Line 3 and chose not to use it. His approach was to sit on his hands, agree with whatever decisions state agencies or the courts made, and try to avoid accountability. That’s not leadership.

Pipelines aren’t the problem, its all those people driving cars

Line 3 opponents in front of Governor’s mansion. File photo.

Walz has bought into Enbridge talking points.

So I’ve always said: The issue is not supply of fossil fuels, it’s demand for fossil fuels. It’s reducing the demand so that the 2.3 million miles of pipeline we have in this country become non-essential as we move towards, as we’ve seen here in Minnesota, we moved towards a carbon-free by 2040. And we are being the first state, as I’ve said, in the entire Midwest to electrify our transportation grid.

Gov. Walz

Comment: If we are going to solve this huge climate problem, we need to address both fossil fuel supply and demand.

Walz’s answer absolves industry (the oil supply side) of any responsibility for climate damage.

Walz ducked Julia’s questions: Given his Line 3 approval, “How can we trust you to be a climate leader in this moment?”

Yes, Walz pushed clean car standards. Yes, he set a goal to have 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040. That’s nearly two decades away. We currently lag behind our previous, and less ambitious, goals.

Planning for 2040 is important. But the wildfires are now. The drought is now. Line 3 is now.

Walz also ducked Julia’s question about how he could approve Line 3 given that it violates treaty rights he vowed to uphold?

Walz issued an executive order in 2018 promising meaningful consultation with Native Nations on issues of mutual concern. That meaningful consultation didn’t happen with Line 3.

Transcript here.

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