Deeply Flawed Environmental Analysis of Tar Sands Pipeline Needs to Go Back to Square One

The state has released a deeply flawed final environmental impact statement (EIS) for a proposed tar sands crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota, a project known as Enbridge Line 3.

The 5,000 page document ducks the issue of treaty rights. It spends a scant 28 pages on issues of environmental justice, and much of that is unintelligible bureaucratic language. It leaves important questions unanswered.

Enbridge wants to install a three-foot wide tar sands pipeline through 337 miles of northern Minnesota, crossing the Mississippi twice and threatening wild rice areas. It will connect Alberta’s tar sands fields with a terminal in Superior, Wisconsin.

The public responded loudly when the draft EIS was released in May. Many individuals and organizations flooded public hearings with comments and criticisms. Many believe the process is being rushed.

Media analysis is coming in. The Star Tribune headline read: Report: Enbridge Line 3 options all would have negative effect on American Indians. MPR went with the neutral headline: Line 3 oil pipeline environmental review released.

Missing from media analysis and from the EIS is an analysis of whether we need this pipeline.

The answer is no. This pipeline has nothing to do with U.S. energy independence; it has everything to do with corporate profits from gas exports to developing countries. Two important facts. First, Minnesota’s refined petroleum sales (gas, diesel, jet fuel, etc.) is down 19 percent from our 2004 peak. Second, the United States is now a net exporter of refined petroleum products and our exports are growing annually. We don’t need more tar sands crude.

The pipeline threatens our environment and treaty rights and gives the state and nation no long-term benefits.

I am just starting to go through the EIS, but here are some early takes. Continue reading

Red Lake Nation Asks Governor Dayton to Delay Release of EIS on Enbridge Line 3

The Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians (Anishinaabe) has written Governor Dayton to ask him to delay releasing the final environmental impact statement (FEIS) on Enbridge Line 3. It is scheduled to be released today.

Line 3 is a proposed tar sands crude oil pipeline from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, via Minnesotas. It would travel 337 miles across northern part of our state, crossing the Mississippi River twice and threatening wild rice areas. It would violate treaty rights that allow the Anishinaabe to hunt, fish and gather wild rice on off-reservation lands.

In an Aug. 15 letter to Dayton, the Red Lake Tribal Council said the state’s draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) of Line 3’s impacts to tribal resources “is clearly inadequate.” It also raises concerns about the departure of Danielle Molliver, the state’s tribal liaison for the project, who recently quit over concerns that the state was not showing a good faith effort to work with tribes.

The letter continues:

In fact, the discussion of tribal impacts in the DEIS and the mitigation that is proposed appears to have been written by Enbridge itself. …

We are also very concerned about the tight time schedule that the Public Utilities Commission and Enbridge are focused on for getting the FEIS released to the Public. The Red Lake Tribal Council believes that it is more important that the drafters of the environmental impact statement meaningfully consider the myriad of issues raised through the public comment, rather than being singularly focused on a tight self-imposed time schedule.

We are also concerned about the abrupt departure of Ms. Danielle Molliver, the Tribal Liaison with the Minnesota Department of Commerce for Tribal Nations throughout the environmental impact statement process. Ms. Molliver opened doors for the Department of Commerce, and convinced tribal people to share their true feeling about the impacts of Enbridge’s proposed project.  Her abrupt departure casts a further cloud over the environmental impact statement process.

For more background on why Molliver quit, see our earlier blog.

The letter is reproduced below. Continue reading

Tribal Liaison For Enbridge Line 3 Quits State Job, Cites Minnesota’s Lack of “Good Faith” Effort

The state’s point person working to elevate Native voices around a proposed crude oil pipeline in northern Minnesota has quit her job, citing a lack of transparency and good faith effort by the state, according to a story in The Intercept.

Danielle Oxendine Molliver, a member of the Lumbee tribe from North Carolina, worked as the tribal liaison for the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the lead agency in shepherding the Enbridge Line 3 project through the regulatory process. Line 3 would carry tar sands crude oil from Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisconsin, traveling 337 miles through northern Minnesota.

Oxendine Molliver explained her decision to resign in a July 24 letter, quoted in The Intercept article.

“There are a multitude of reasons why I have come to this decision. The single most important one is the failure of the state of Minnesota to fulfill its obligations of good faith and fair dealing with the tribes in connection with the Line 3 project.”

She added, “I feel as though my resignation is the only option to maintain my integrity, commitment, and standing with the tribal communities as both a liaison and indigenous woman.”

It is the latest controversy over Enbridge Line 3. In related news, the first non-violent direct action against Enbridge Line 3 is set for Cloquet this Monday. Here is a link to the event page.

Continue reading

Your Ideas Sought on “Wakan Tipi Center”; Public Reading of The Capitol Play Project

The Lower Phalen Creek Project is seeking your thoughts/ideas/advice on the Wakan Tipi Interpretive Center that will be built at the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary located just east of downtown St. Paul.

Wakan Tipi, also known as Carver’s Cave, is a Dakota sacred site. It is part of the Dakota origin story; it was place where pregnant women came to give birth. It was an important gathering place. Animal petroglyphs lined the inside of the cave until the cave was mostly destroyed by railroad construction.

The Wakan Tipi Center aims to honor, interpret, and educate the community about Wakan Tipi, its rich Dakota history, and the natural history around the 27-acre nature sanctuary. The new Center will have educational, ceremonial, and meeting space, and many other possible amenities. Your comments to a survey will help shape the Center’s development.

The Capitol Play Project: A Public Reading Sept. 9

Healing Minnesota Stories recently learned about The Capitol Play Project, a Wonderlust Production. We got invited to talk to one of the producers, who was interested to know more about the debates over controversial art in the Capitol and how that affected people’s experience of participating in democracy there.

Here is the announcement:

  • Public reading of the script first draft: Saturday, September 9th at 12:30 p.m., Senate Hearing Room G15, Minnesota State Capitol
  • Fully staged performances: January 19 – February 3, 2018, various locations all around the Capitol Building

The Capitol Play Project will be a series of site-specific live performances at Minnesota’s State Capitol, exploring the world of our capitol through story, song and movement. Content will be generated with, and performed by, a cross-section of the capitol’s community—from politicians and staffers to civil servants, building maintenance crews, security, lobbyists, researchers, reporters, and citizens who come to the capitol to advocate. Behind the doors, beyond the politics, into the heart of a place that is defined by governance, but driven by the people who work there every day.

In Returning the Sacred Red Rock to the Dakota, Methodists Want to Build Relationships, Lead State Towards Healing Path

The Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church (UMC) is in the early stages of returning In-Yan Sa (the sacred Red Rock) to the Dakota people, according to an article the UMC published online. The UMC says this is part of a larger effort of healing, building relationships with indigenous peoples, and leading the rest of Minnesota along this important journey.

(The Dakota word for the Red Rock also is spelled Eyah-Shaw.)

The article continued:

“We live in Dakota and Ojibwa lands—land systematically taken from the Dakota and Ojibwa through treaties violated or broken by the U.S. government, land long sacred to its native inhabitants,” said Bishop Ough. “Since the 2012 General Conference, our Minnesota Conference Commission on Native American Ministry has been preparing us to walk the path of peace and reconciliation with the Dakota people and to heal the lingering wounds form the 1862 U.S.-Dakota War. This is the moment for the Minnesota Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church to lead the entire state down this path of healing and reconciliation. This is the moment to return Eyah-Shaw. This would be a powerful and just step toward peace and harmony.”

Continue reading

Water Protector Updates from Minnesota to Maine; Burial Site on Fond du Lac Disturbed; Another Public Art Controversy … And More

Update on Enbridge Line 3:

Thanks to the people who are paying attention to Enbridge Line 3, the proposed tar sands crude oil pipeline that would cross 337 miles of northern Minnesota. The line would run from Alberta, through Minnesota, into Superior Wisconsin. While Minnesota is more than seven months away from a vote, Enbridge already has started work in Canada and Wisconsin. Here are photos of the work being done in Wisconsin from Neo Gabo Benais’ Facebook page.

Enbridge Line 3 would cross the Mississippi River, twice, and threaten wild rice areas. For more, see our Enbridge Line 3 page.

Penobscot Nation Thwarted in its Attempts to Protect the Waters of the Penobscot River

Here is another example of a Native nation trying to protect its sacred waters. In this case, the Penobscot are losing. Indian Country Today lays it out in a story:  Termination or Extermination for Penobscot Indian Nation? The State of Maine Declares Jurisdiction Over Penobscot River; Federal Courts Agree. The story says:

On June 30, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court ruling that severs the Penobscot Indian Nation from the waters of the Penobscot River, a ruling that Penobscot Indian Nation Chief Kirk Francis says is reminiscent of federal termination policy—or worse.

“The river and our relationship to it and the 200 islands [that form the reservation] are the core of our cultural identity. If our ability to protect the river is taken away, we lose a big part of who we are,” Francis told ICMN [Indian Country Media Network].

The Penobscot River has significant pollution problems already, the story said. A 2014 federal study recommended that members of the Penobscot nation limit themselves to eating one to two fish per month. That’s barely a meal. Young children and pregnant women aren’t supposed to eat river fish at all. That is a tremendous burden for nation that traditionally depends on fish for its diet, and a nation that cares deeply about the water.

More news follows. Continue reading

Methodist Church Takes Another Step Towards Returning the Dakota People’s Sacred Red Rock

The United Methodist Church (UMC) is moving forward with efforts to return the Dakota peoples’ sacred Red Rock, (in Dakota, In-Ya Sha or also spelled Eyah Shaw). It is one small step towards acknowledging the historical trauma and genocide inflicted on Native peoples by the U.S colonial enterprise, one in which the UMC participated.

Early Methodist ministers settled in the area along the Mississippi River near In-Ya Sha. When the Dakota people were exiled after the War of 1862, the Methodists continued preaching there. The rock evolved into a symbol for Methodist church camp. The Red Rock camp name persists today, but the rock itself sits in front of the Newport UMC.

Conversations have percolated for several years about returning In-Ya Sha. This March, Dakota elders made a formal request, asking the UMC to return it. In response, UMC Bishop Bruce Ough promised the church would do so.

Sign next to Eyah Shaw in front of Newport United Methodist Church.

But details needed to be worked out.

In the latest update,  Newport UMC congregational leaders voted in July to honor the Dakota elders’ request, according to a Star Tribune story.  The Dakota people “can and will determine the future location and care of the Red Rock,” the resolution said.

That was a big step, but not the last one. Continue reading