MMIW Task Force seeks public comments, the opiod crisis for Native Americans in Minnesota, and more

In this blog:

  • Public comments sought for Minnesota’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Task Force
  • MPR: ‘How can we prevent the heart from breaking?’ White Earth reviews opioid overdose deaths
  • Do businesses see stopping pipeline oil spills as a moral imperative, or are spills just an inexpensive cost of doing business?

Public comment sought for the Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

The public is invited to submit written comments to the Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women for inclusion in their consideration of recommendations, which will be included in a report to the Minnesota Legislature in December 2020.

The deadline for comments is April 26, 2020.

The Minnesota State Legislature created the Task Force on Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women this year to:

  • Examine systemic causes behind violence that indigenous women and girls experience, including the disproportionately high levels of violence that occur against indigenous women and girls,
  • Examine how to track and collect data on violence against indigenous women and girls,
  • Report on measures necessary to address and reduce violence against indigenous women and girls; and
  • Examine measures to help victims, victims’ families, and victims’ communities prevent and heal from violence that occurs against indigenous women and girls

Comments should be directly related to the mandates of the Task Force (see  link above) and should provide concrete recommendations that can be acted on by the Minnesota Legislature.

You may:

  • Submit your comments online
  • Email your comments to: MMIWTaskForce@wilder.org
  • Call 651-280-2661 to leave a verbal recording of your comments that Wilder Research staff will transcribe and submit with the other written comments.
  • Testify before the Task Force. Dates can be found here, and will typically happen in the beginning of the day.

If you do not wish your testimony to be posted publicly, please check the “DO NOT post comment” box and your submission will not be placed on the website but will be taken into consideration for the final recommendations and will be available to Task Force members.

Your comments will be sent to and collected by Wilder Research (a contractor that is working with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety). Wilder Research and DPS will compile public comments both through this online form and at Task Force meetings, and will assist in the preparation of recommendations for the Task Force’s report to the Minnesota Legislature.

‘How can we prevent the heart from breaking?’ White Earth reviews opioid overdose deaths

MPR reports that “American Indians in Minnesota have the highest opioid overdose death rate of American Indians anywhere in the country.” White Earth officials and university researchers are reviewing doing a deep dive “into the medical histories and the personal lives of a handful of people who died as a result of opioid overdose on the White Earth Reservation,” the story said.

Perhaps not surprisingly, past trauma “emerged as a primary risk factor for opioid use in Indian Country.”

Click on the link above for the full story.

Pipeline oil spills just a cost of doing business?

A story from S&P Global: Pipeline spills not a major financial concern for operators, analysis says is jarring in how it ignores the environmental harm of oil pipeline spills:

Pipeline spills and leaks are not a major financial concern for the average midstream company, according to a new report by financial services firm Morningstar.

The typical oil and gas pipeline operator experiences fewer than 10 spills per year and accrues “well under” $10 million in annual costs related to the incidents, Morningstar reports. The firm counted just seven incidents since 1999 in which costs exceeded $100 million.

This is the worldview of those who value short-term profits over long-term sustainability. Notice how the writer’s language minimizes some horrific spills. It says there were “just” seven incidents in the past 20 years where cleanup costs exceeded $100 million, as if that were a major success. By whose standards? The writer could just as easily have written: “Every three years on average, oil pipeline companies have a major oil spill topping $100 million in clean up costs …” and gone on to document the environmental damage that occurred.

Maybe its not a big deal to the folks at Morningstar because the spill isn’t in their backyard. The threat of spills here in Minnesota, such as the proposed Enbridge Line 3, threaten our clean water, wild rice and treaty rights.

Equally dismissive is the sentence that says a typical pipeline company has fewer than 10 spill a year costing well under $10 million. Using works like “fewer than” and “well under” make it sound like this is some kind of success story. Unexplained in the story is how the writer decided that annual spill clean up costs of under $10 million don’t matter.

If industry just sees spills as a cost of doing business — and spills aren’t hurting the bottom line — there is no business incentive to reduce the number of spills.

That’s where government has to step in. The article said Congressional Democrats “are pushing to increase the maximum penalty for violating pipeline safety statutes to $20 million, up from the current cap of $200,000 per violation. They would also toss out a $2 million cap for repeated violations and make it easier to bring criminal charges against pipeline operators.”

Comment: I wonder who write the rules that capped the penalties on repeat violators at $2 million. I’m guessing it was industry. And if $10 million in annual cleanup costs isn’t an incentive for pipeline companies to reduce spills, a $2 million maximum penalty is nothing. Time to raise the penalties, and $20 million isn’t enough for repeat offenders.

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