Ojibwe Push PUC to Delay Key Line 3 Vote Until Historic Properties Review is Done

In a show of unity, five bands of  the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) nation filed a joint motion to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) seeking delay on a key vote on the Line 3 pipeline until the proper historic properties review is done.

The Fond du Lac, Mille Lacs, Leech Lake, White Earth and Red Lake bands filed their joint motion Jan. 2 seeking the delay until a proper historic properties review is complete.

In December, the PUC found the environmental impact statement (EIS) on Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline “inadequate” and ordered changes to the document. However, the changes it ordered were very modest. Indigenous and environmental groups see much deeper flaws in the EIS.

The Aninishinaabe legal brief says the law requires the EIS to include a thorough historical properties review, currently missing from the document. It describe the work on historical properties so far as “so inadequate that it could be used as a ‘what not to do’ example in future guidance.” It continues:

The lead state agency, the Department of Commerce … has all but ignored its obligations under state historic preservation law. The DOC has disregarded the explicit advice and direction of the State Historic Preservation Office (“SHPO”) and the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council (“MIAC”) The DOC has ignored the guidance of its own tribal liaison — who was hired for the express purpose of coordinating with the tribes on the Project.

The brief offers an example of why this kind of review is important.

As the Commission [PUC] knows, in 2017, the state Department of Transportation failed to conduct full historic-properties review and consult with tribal governments in the area of the Highway 23 road and bridge project in Duluth. The result was destruction of a tribal burial site. There is no substitute for full and timely historic evaluation. (page 4)

Click here for the full Legal Brief.

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