Enbridge Gas Distribution headquarters in Markham, Ontario. (Photo by JHVEPhoto, Getty Images)


This week’s topics: Line 3 completed; Carnahan won’t run; wait’ll next year


This week’s Sounding Board (left to right): Patrick Garofalo, Mary Kunesh, Peter Bell, John Lesch and Greg Davids

This week’s Sounding Board (left to right): Patrick Garofalo, Mary Kunesh, Peter Bell, John Lesch and Greg Davids


Query 1: Despite stiff opposition from tribes and environmentalists, the Enbridge Line 3 replacement pipeline is complete and will begin operations Friday. What’s your take? Is that on balance a good or a bad thing?

Pat Garofalo, GOP House member: It’s a good thing that we’re going to be replacing an old pipeline with a more stable and reliable one. That’s far superior to having the old pipeline leak or having an accident from shipping oil via rail cars. Yeah, that’s a good deal. It’s just embarrassing that it took so damned long to get this thing built through Minnesota’s byzantine regulatory system.

Mary Kunesh, DFL assistant Senate minority leader: I am absolutely heartbroken and I do not feel it is a good thing for Minnesota or for our communities going forward. The fact that this pipeline has the potential to add 50 coal plants of pollution and noxiousness to our environment is totally contradictory to the governor’s and the president’s plan for a green environment in 30 years. I think that we will rue the day that that pipeline starts to run oil. It’s not even oil, it’s tar sands. That’s my answer.

[Editor’s note: It is, in fact, oil. But as the Associated Press reported Wednesday, the Alberta tar sands oil that will pass through the line “is a heavier crude that consumes more energy and generates more carbon dioxide in the refining process than lighter oil, making it an even bigger contributor to climate change.”]

Peter Bell, conservative writer: On balance, it’s a good thing. First of all, it’s a replacement pipeline. Second, we still need oil. Renewables just aren’t reliable enough. While still leaving a small chance for spills and the like, I am confident in the technology and think that it’s a good project and one that I support. We mustn’t forget that gas prices are going up significantly now. And the transition from a carbon-based economy to one that’s based on renewables is going to take more time than I think many people realize.

John Lesch, attorney, former DFL House member: Based upon the energy needs and the direction we’re moving, I think it’s a bad thing. I think some folks believe that it was necessary. But the renewable trend that we’re pursuing as a nation means this thing is going to be obsolete sooner rather than later. So I wonder how long it’ll be good for.

Greg Davids, GOP House member: It’s a very good thing. It is much more environmentally friendly than old pipelines, or trucking it or rail. Much, much safer and more efficient. So it’s about time that this gets online. It is an environmentally friendly situation we have, because they’re going to start using it.


Jennifer Carnahan (Photo: Kevin Featherly)

Jennifer Carnahan (Photo: Kevin Featherly)

Query 2: Ousted state GOP chair Jennifer Carnahan did not file to run for reelection as chair, despite telling WCCO-TV that thousands of people were “literally calling and begging me to run again.” She said she doesn’t expect to be on any election ballot in the 2022, either. Have we seen the last of her as a political force?

Garofalo: I have no idea. In my interactions with her, she has been a good person to work with. She has got a great work ethic. But in terms of where she’s at and where she’s going, I don’t know what her plans are. I don’t blame anyone for stepping away from the insanity of politics in 2021.

Kunesh: I don’t think we’ve seen or heard the last of her. She did build a pretty strong following in the past, when you look at her rise to the level of leadership and influence that she had in the GOP. So I think she’s just going to sitting quietly for a couple of years, nursing the wounds that either she inflicted or she received. But no. I think she will be back in some way, shape or form after a couple years of laying low.

Bell: I tend to think that we have. And I hope that we have. I think she, frankly, is not a stable figure and needs to take a back seat. Particularly, I think it’s problematic for the Republican party, which is seen as not necessarily the most stable of parties now. I think we need two stable, mature parties where the adults are in the room and kind of in control. I think that we’ll have a better chance of bridging our political divide in that environment. So my hope is that we have seen the last of her.

Lesch: Absolutely not. With no official position of authority, she has even more freedom to spew drivel than she previously enjoyed. So I’ll expect more of that from her, especially in the age of social media.

Davids: I don’t think we’ve seen the last of her. I think she needs to take a little time out here and get regrouped. She went through a tough time here. But we probably haven’t seen the last of her.


Twins v. Red Sox, May 5, 2017. (Photo: Kevin Featherly)

Twins v. Red Sox, May 5, 2017. (Photo: Kevin Featherly)

Query 3: StarTribune columnist Michael Rand says that if the Twins go the practical route, they’ll undergo a modest rebuild and return to relevance in 2023. But he thinks they could accelerate that schedule without jeopardizing their future prospects. Do you see a Twins team worth watching taking the field in 2022?

Garofalo: I mean, I love baseball, so whether a team is competing for the World Series or not, I think it’s worth watching. Baseball is unlike other sports in that the slow, deliberative nature of it is what makes it appealing. It’s not the constant action of many modern sports. But the economics of baseball are screwed up. So as long as the New Yorks and the Los Angeleses of the world have far larger revenue streams than mid-sized and smaller markets, we are going to have competitive balance issues. I know, it sounds like I’m advocating for sports socialism. [Laughs]. I do understand why that makes it sound complicated. But baseball needs to have more of a revenue model like the NFL does. But that being said, the Twins are a well-run organization and lord knows we’re due to get a championship in this area.

Kunesh: That is such a hard question! Because so often it’s the chemistry between the players and it’s so situational. It can depend on the other teams as well—if they have injuries, if there are consequences to like COVID or something that might affect them. I think, next year, they need to continue to represent Minnesota in the best way that they can. And sometimes—even though it’s very, very costly—we have to show a little bit of forgiveness. Because at the end of the day, I’m sure those guys are doing as hard of work to win as possible. We have to give them the benefit of the doubt, while hoping that they are looking for really positive ways to rebuild to another World Series. That’s what we need—another World Series!

Bell: I do. I think that they’ll be improved, but that doesn’t mean I think that they’ll make the playoffs. I think they’ll be out of the cellar. The Twins really try to build their team around hitting and defense and they tend to skip out on the pitching. And if the Twins really want to be a competitive force, they’ve got to pay for quality pitchers. And they really, in my judgment, haven’t done that. They always have good hitters. They usually have good defense. But the pitching has always been suspect. I think that’s true this year. Hopefully, management will realize that and make that change.

Lesch: Not at this point. But isn’t that what we’re always up for as Minnesotans? If we’re not disappointed in our team, we’re doing something wrong—though we don’t have it like the Chicago Cubs fans did for decades. But no. I don’t expect that’s going to happen. But guess what? If you make mild progress, there is the key to surging ratings, once people out-perform your expectations. That’s the name of the game and I think they’re following that route.

Davids: I think the Twins are always worth watching. It’s just sometimes the watching is a little better than other times. Of course, you’ve got another issue with Major League Baseball. It’s shutting down a company in my district and moving the jobs over to China. I don’t know if you saw the press release from Congressman [Jim] Hagedorn and some of his other colleagues. They’re passing a resolution condemning those actions. It’s really hard on my district to lose those good-paying jobs. Baseball is America’s pastime and to ship jobs out to Communist China is very unfortunate.

[Editor’s note: The company Miken Sports was bought by an equity firm and folded into Rawlings Sporting Goods—a company partially owned by Major League Baseball. According to CBS News, when the Miken factory closes, it will save Rawlings $4 million a year. But it will cost the town of Caledonia, Minn., about 150 jobs.]

  Session/Law logo by Kirk Anderson