Governor has yet to explain himself
In the wake of increasing coronavirus cases, Gov. Tim Walz last month issued what he called a “pause” on “social activities, in-person dining, sports, and fitness establishments for four weeks.”
This week, Walz and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency expedited the approval for Enbridge Line 3, issuing its final permit even though they had three more weeks to decide. This means an influx of two thousand workers — or more — from outside the area, heightening risks of pandemic spread.
During the past two days, Healing Minnesota Stories has called and emailed Walz’s media office and that of Jan Malcolm, Commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Health, seeking comment on how they viewed the health risks from Line 3 construction crews. Neither has responded.
Minnesota citizens deserve answers from their leaders.
MPR reported this past weekend that Walz expects to issue “no gather guidance” for Minnesota families during Christmas. Meanwhile, he appears untroubled by having hundreds of out-state workers gather in northern Minnesota over the holidays.
Last year, Walz issued an executive order committing the state to provide “consultation, coordination and cooperation” with the Tribal Nations. It would “help to establish mutually respectful and beneficial relationships between the State and Minnesota Tribal Nations,” it said.
Last week, the White Earth and Red Lake Nations asked for a Line 3 construction delay, in part based on the health risks. Walz has been silent. From what is known publicly, it appears to have mattered little to him. What happened to the “mutually respectful and beneficial relationships”?
Walz has a choice to make and so far he is choosing to side with Enbridge’s pipeline push over the health of Minnesotans.
With Walz’s tacit support, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is currently suing to overturn Line 3 permits in the Minnesota Court of Appeals. Commerce has argued for years that Enbrige failed to prove the new pipeline was needed.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security classifies pipeline construction crews as “essential workers.” It’s ironic: Here in Minnesota, “essential workers” are building a non-essential pipeline.
Walz could have put his foot down and supported a construction delay. The federal document listing pipeline workers as “essential” workers gave him leeway.
In bold letters, on page one, the memo states:
This list is advisory in nature. It is not, nor should it be considered, a federal directive or standard.Christopher C. Krebs
Director, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)
August 18, 2020
To restate the matter, Walz could have supported a construction delay without running afoul of federal laws.
Given other measures they are recommending to suppress the pandemic, Gov. Walz and Commissioner Malcolm need to explain why they are choosing to ignore the health risks of this major construction project.