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Congressional candidates mull issues at Farmfest

By Fritz Busch

Staff Writer

MANKATO — Candidates disagreed on party lines at times, but not always, as they discussed rural issues at the Minnesota Farmfest 2020 Virtual Congressional Candidate Forum Wednesday.

The Line 3 Pipeline Replacement Project was something they agreed on.

Described by the Minnesota Utilities Commission as an integrity and maintenance-driven project for the construction of 330 miles of new, 36-inch diameter pipeline to replace existing 34-inch pipeline in Minnesota. The new line would deliver all crude oil grades and generally serve the same markets and and transport the same product mix as existing Line 3.

First District Republican Congressman Jim Hagedorn said he supports Line 3, he said is held up by liberals, “because it’s the cheapest and safest and we don’t have enough rail cars for grain farmers.”

Second District Democratic Congresswoman Angie Craig said she agrees with Hagedorn and that a wide-ranging energy strategy is appropriate.

“We should not let environmentalists stop it. Think of the jobs and safety,” said Sixth District Republican Tom Emmer.

First District Democratic challenger Dan Feehan said he supports Line 3 with safeguards that make it safe and an energy mix including wind and solar.

“Farmers are over-regulated, especially with fertilizer and livestock. They know how to best use the land. It’s getting insane,” said Second District Republican challenger Tyler Kistner.

Craig said it’s “absolutely clear climate change is happening. Biofuels are part of the solution.”

“We have to look at farmers as partners instead of elected officials being agriculture adversaries. It makes sense,” Emmer said.

Feehan said it’s a regional, not a political issue. He accused Hagedorn of being bought and sold by Big Oil.

A number of candidates agreed that Minnesota should not follow a proposed California law that would phase out diesel trucks to control pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.

Sixth District Democratic challenger Tawnja Zahradka said “America needs to get back on board with the rest of the world and use solar and wind energy.”

Hagedorn said left wind environmentalists drive up energy costs.

“An energy independence policy is what makes sense, not just raising the cost. That makes no sense whatsover,” Hagedorn said.

Feehan accused Washington of a chaotic trade policy.

“We need to look outwards, not inwards,” Feehan said.

Craig said she’s “sick and tired of Big Oil lobbyists running the EPA.”

Hagedorn said he favors creating meatpacking cooperatives that farmers can join.

Emmer said the food supply chain is a national security issue.

Hagedorn said the Minnesota economy needs to open back up and get back to business. He said Gov. Tim Walz’ executive orders needs to go away.

“Opening up and having a public health crisis is a false strategy,” Feehan said.

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com.

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