Enbridge Line 3 Gets Late Backing from U.S. DOT; Honor the Earth Starts ‘Welcome Water Protectors’ Campaign

MPR reports that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration is a late entrant into the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands crude oil pipeline debate — recommending the state approve the Canadian company’s request. The letter, arriving at the 11th hour, could foreshadow Trump administration intervention on Line 3, similar to what it did on the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Today was Day Two of four scheduled meetings for the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to debate and vote on Enbridge Line 3. The process already appears to be taking longer than expected. Continue reading

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PUC Opens Final Line 3 Debate: State Remains Firm that Pipeline Isn’t Needed; Enbridge Adds More Concessions

People began lining up two hours before the start of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Line 3 hearing in order to get a ticket.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) today began the first day of the final hearings on the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands crude oil pipeline, with a vote expected later this month. Day One went as well as could be expected for pipeline opponents.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce opened with a strong statement — reiterating its position that the state doesn’t need this pipeline. Meanwhile, Enbridge offered a new list of concessions — possibly an indication executives know their proposal is in trouble.

The PUC has scheduled additional hearings for Tuesday, and next week on Tuesday and Wednesday. A final vote could happen on any of those days, or the hearings could be extended. The PUC will vote on both a Certificate of Need and a Route Permit.

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Dunbar-Ortiz to Speak on the White Supremacist Roots of the Second Amendment

Save the Date! Dr. Roxanne Dunbar Ortiz, author of “An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States,” will be in town Sept. 27 to talk on her new book: “Loaded: A Disarming History of the Second Amendment.” The event will start at 7 p.m. at First Unitarian Society, 900 Mount Curve Ave., Minneapolis. (Flyer for Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz lecture.)

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PUC Staff Recommends Approving Line 3 Pipeline Along Enbridge’s Preferred Route

After pubic comments overwhelmingly opposed a new Enbridge Line 3 pipeline, after the Minnesota Department of Commerce said the pipeline wasn’t needed, after the Administrative Law Judge reviewing the proposal said the costs outweigh the benefits of building a new and larger Line 3 along a new route, the staff at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has recommended giving Enbridge what it wanted. Continue reading

Judge Takes Sides in Line 3’s Treaty Rights Debate When She Should Have Stayed Neutral

In her recommendations on the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline, Administrative Law Judge Ann O’Reilly took sides on the critical issue of treaty rights when she should have stayed neutral. Instead, she staked out a legal position outside the scope of her work and one detrimental to the Ojibwe Bands.

O’Reilly is not a treaty law expert. More importantly, O’Reilly’s recommendations are meant for the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the PUC isn’t going to take a position on treaty rights. It’s beyond the PUC’s scope. O’Reilly should have stayed neutral and articulated the PUC’s predicament: The PUC can’t decide treaty law disputes yet treaty rights are a critical issue underpinning its Line 3 decision. Continue reading

News/Events: Native Youth Visit Vatican; ‘Horse Nation’ Art Opening; and The ‘Necessity Defense’

Some quick thumbnails of news and events.

Report on Native Youth’s Visit to the Vatican: On Thursday, June 14, Mitch Walking Elk and one of the Native youth who traveled to the Vatican in May will give an update on their trip and their efforts to get the Pope to officially revoke the Doctrine of Discovery. The event is free and open to the public. It will be held at St. Olaf Church (215 South 8th Street, Minneapolis) in the Forliti  Gathering Room. Supper (also free) and social begins at 6:30 p.m. and the program runs from 6:45 – 8:30 p.m. Continue reading

Why it’s Problematic to Include Native Americans Under the “People of Color” Umbrella

Perhaps you’ve read the term “People of Color and Indigenous People” wondered: Why the long title? Aren’t Native Americans people of color, too?

It’s not a redundant phrase; it’s about Native sovereignty. A recent example is the Trump administration’s efforts to strip Native Americans of treaty-protected health care rights by labeling them as a race instead of members of sovereign Native nations.

Quick background: This January, the Trump administration began allowing states to impose work requirements for “able-bodied” Medicaid beneficiaries, according to a story in The Hill.  (In Minnesota, Medicaid is called Medical Assistance). The story called the proposal “a major shift in the design of the health insurance program for the poor and disabled.”

According to the Politico story: Trump challenges Native Americans’ historical standing:

The Trump administration says Native Americans might need to get a job if they want to keep their health care — a policy that tribal leaders say will threaten access to care and reverse centuries-old protections. …

[T]he Trump administration contends the tribes are a race rather than separate governments, and exempting them from Medicaid work rules — which have been approved in three states and are being sought by at least 10 others — would be illegal preferential treatment. “

The three states to impose Medicaid work requirements already are Arkansas, Kentucky and Indiana, according to an article in Telesur. Minnesota lawmakers introduced similar legislation this session but it was voted down. Still, this issue highlights the importance of recognizing indigenous peoples as citizens of sovereign nations, and not lumping them in with people of color.

Here are few links and excerpts with more information on this issue: Continue reading