Pipeline Battle Could Help Trump Win Minnesota in 2020

Pipeline Battle Could Help Trump Win Minnesota in 2020
AP Photo/Jim Mone, File
Pipeline Battle Could Help Trump Win Minnesota in 2020
AP Photo/Jim Mone, File
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Last week, President Trump tweeted that he expects to win the state of Minnesota in next year’s election. The president said Rep. Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitism and Minnesota’s booming economy are two reasons he will turn the state red in 2020. He may be right.  

But there is another reason that President Trump should feel confident about winning Minnesota.  A critical crude oil pipeline that runs through the state is under attack by the same protesters who led the fight against the Dakota Access pipeline several years ago. 

An existing pipeline, known as Line 3, is being upgraded and replaced with a new pipeline that will increase its capacity. There’s a huge economic benefit for Minnesota that comes with the construction, with a $2.6 billion investment, an estimated 6,500 local jobs, and a boost to the local economy. 

Not only that, but there is high approval among Minnesota residents for more access to natural gas and oil resources. There’s also broad support for energy infrastructure, with over 85% of voters in the state wanting infrastructure to transport oil and natural gas for use in places like the Mayo Clinic and for agricultural equipment and supplies, according to a recent survey

President Trump frequently touts his administration’s success lowering the nation’s unemployment rate to 3.6%, the lowest it’s been 50 years. Supporting a pipeline that brings thousands of additional jobs to the state is a no-brainer. Back in April, the project got his support, with the president saying: “It’s very important we get that approved. I think it’s something that will bring down your costs and bring down your costs for the whole country.” 

And he’s exactly right. Pipelines are one of the most important parts of our energy infrastructure, keeping oil and natural gas affordable, accessible, and safe for millions of Americans who depend on it each and every day. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, pipelines are the safest and most efficient means of transporting energy. 

It’s a win-win for Minnesota and the country as a whole, yet some Democrat candidates are voicing their opposition to the project, citing unfounded environmental concerns. Why should this boost Trump’s confidence? Because his opponents are aligning themselves with Winona LaDuke, executive director of Honor the Earth, the organization that is leading the opposition to the new pipeline. 

If it sounds familiar, it’s because Honor the Earth has been involved in several similar protests. The group led the Dakota Access demonstrations, which resulted in taxpayers having to pay $1 million for the cleanup of mounds of trash left behind after the protests ended. The organization has also garnered substantial media attention regarding  serious allegations of sexual harassment and other wrongdoing.   

There are also questions being raised about a nonprofit LaDuke founded, the White Earth Land Recovery Project (WELRP). This organization purportedly works to recover land for the Chippewa tribe’s White Earth Indian Reservation in Minnesota. But despite this stated mission, the tribe reports that no land has been received, and a tribal official last month released a letter saying that a financial inquiry will be launched to investigate “donations received by the WERLP since its founding, which have been represented to be for the benefit of tribal members, even though no lands have been conveyed.” 

Any other Democrat candidates who are thinking about opposing the pipeline will have a tough time defending their position, especially when it means aligning themselves with groups like Honor the Earth and its leadership. 

It’s clear that Trump has his sights set on winning Minnesota in 2020 and his chances of flipping the state red will only increase if Democrat candidates side with the opposition to Line 3. He will call out Rep. Omar’s record of anti-Semitism, attribute Minnesota’s economic success to his administration’s policies, and if he continues supporting the pipeline and the economic benefits it brings, the state could be his.  

Robert Graham is the former chairman of the Arizona Republican Party and was an adviser to the Donald J. Trump for President campaign in 2016.

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