Silence is not leadership

Reading the tea leaves, it seems Gov. Walz is a Line 3 backer

Gov. Tim Walz has bobbed, weaved, dithered, and ducked through his first term in office, avoiding taking a stand on the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipelines. After the coronavirus, it’s one of the most consequential issues of his tenure.

The pipeline would generate $287 billion in climate damage. It would trench through 79 miles of wetlands. It would cut through state forests. Oil spills would jeopardize northern Minnesota’s clean waters, including wild rice beds. It would violate treaty rights. And by the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s own analysis, Enbridge failed to prove the pipeline is needed.

Yet Walz has given his tacit approval for the project, siding with a Canadian oil pipeline company, international oil shippers, and oil refineries. The project has slid through the state regulatory process with minimal opposition.

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Walz’s Covid contradictions: He tells local businesses to ‘pause’ while approving a foreign company’s construction project

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.

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During pandemic spike, state needs to bar Enbridge Line 3 construction and its influx of out-of-state workers

PUC to hear Red Lake, White Earth requests for pipeline delay on Friday

Native Nations, environmental groups, file suit today to block MPCA’s Line 3 permit

Native Americans are bearing a disproportionate burden of the coronavirus pandemic and getting inadequate government support.

It’s true nationally and in Minnesota. Here, Gov. Tim Walz’ administration has put Indigenous lives at risk by failing to delay Enbridge Line 3 construction and the pandemic risks it entails.

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Enbridge moving pipeline equipment into place as start of construction looms

North end of what appears to be an Enbridge’s storage yard near Floodwood. (click on the image to enlarge.)

I’m a volunteer monitor for Watch the Line, a grassroots effort by people opposed to the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline. We are committed to preserving northern Minnesota’s clean waters and lands, including the Headwaters Region. We plan to closely monitor Line 3’s construction and report any suspected environmental violations.

Enbridge has notified landowners its intent to begin construction Monday, Nov. 30. During a monitoring trip today, I saw a lot of equipment that appeared to be staged for pipeline construction in a storage yard just south of Floodwood, near the proposed Line 3 route in St. Louis County.

(It’s informed speculation that it’s an Enbridge yard. I didn’t see any Enbridge signs. But it’s the only project in the area that would require this much equipment.)

The storage yard had a lot of stacked wood, which appears to be the matting needed to keep heavy equipment from sinking into the wetlands.

Central portion of the Floodwood storage yard: What appears to be wooden mats for supporting heavy equipment in wetlands. (Click on the image to enlarge.)

Wednesday, the Red Lake and White Earth Nations filed motions with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission seeking to stop construction until pending legal challenges are resolved. Undoubtedly, Enbridge will try to get as much Line 3 construction done as possible before the case gets heard.

Things will be happening fast.

The next Watch the Line monitor training will Sunday, Dec. 6 from 2-4 p.m. Register here.

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Red Lake, White Earth ask PUC to stop Line 3 construction until legal challenges are decided

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated where the motion was filed. It was filed with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

In a motion filed today at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the Red Lake and White Earth nations have asked for a “stay” of Enbridge Line 3 construction until the Court makes a ruling on pending legal challenges.

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The state failed to protect Indigenous communities from Line 3’s harms

No accountability for high-sounding promises

The state of Minnesota has paid a lot of lip service to Indigenous communities around “meaningful consultation” and “environmental justice.” As construction on the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline seems imminent, the state’s shallow commitment to these promises has become ever more apparent.

White Earth and Red Lake Nations have opposed Line 3 for years. They say its construction and future spills would damage their treaty rights to hunt, fish and gather on lands the pipeline crosses. They are currently in court trying to stop the pipeline. The state has proceeded with approvals without making sure treaty issues get resolved first.

Last week, more than half of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA’s) Environmental Justice Advisory Group resigned over the agency’s decision to approve a key Enbridge Line 3 pipeline permit. They “cannot continue to legitimize and provide cover for the MPCA’s war on black and brown people,” their letter said.

Today, the Minnesota Public Utility Commission (PUC) issued a letter saying that Enbridge was generally in compliance with its Route Permit conditions, which required plans that were supposed to benefit and protect Indigenous communities.

The PUC required Enbridge to submit a:

  • Tribal Economic Opportunity and Labor Education Plan
  • Human Trafficking Prevention Plan
  • Environmental Justice Communities Mitigation Plan

A close examination shows these plans to be inadequate and lacking in accountability.

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Stop Line 3 webinar Tuesday features LaDuke, Houska, Goodwin and others offering ways to get involved

In other news, the Washington Football Team’s philanthropic fumble

Check out the Prepare to Care: Stop Line 3 webinar slated for this Tuesday, 6:30-9 p.m. It’s part of the multi-day Harvest the Power Justice Convergence and Teach-In sponsored by several Unitarian groups.

It’s free but you have to register. Here’s the link.

Climate justice leaders working in frontline communities across Northern Minnesota will provide updates on the Line 3 struggle, offering people ways to engage in the resistance movement. This workshop also will include information about nonviolent direct action and other creative and caring conflict intervention opportunities.

Bonus: The event will close by having participants learn a water song together.

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Watch the Line: The next frontier in opposing Enbridge Line 3

Now that it appears Enbridge will begin building its new and larger Line 3 tar sands pipeline through northern Minnesota, a new group will be on the ground to closely monitor and document construction and report any suspected environmental violations.

The group — WatchtheLineMN — is a coalition of individuals opposed to Line 3 and committed to preserving northern Minnesota’s clean waters and lands, including the Headwaters Region.

The next monitor training is this Sunday, 2-4 p.m. Those interested can register here. Those interested in staying on top of Line 3’s expected construction can follow Watch the Line’s website for updates.

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Three ways to support Line 3 resistance, and a critique of Gov. Walz

In this blog:

  • Contact Attorney General Keith Ellison and the MN Department of Commerce, tell them to seek an injunction on Line 3
  • Contact Gov. Walz and tell him to get his pandemic priorities straight, stop Line 3’s influx of out-of-state workers
  • Frontline Line 3 resistance continues; needs bail funds
  • Walz ‘refused to listen to the science,’ Sierra Club says
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The Walz administration is hypocritical in approving Enbridge Line 3

More than half of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA’s) Environmental Justice Advisory Group resigned today over the agency’s decision to approve a key permit for the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline. Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan is distancing herself from Gov. Tim Walz’s support for the project.

The state’s decision to approve Line 3 has polluted the legacy of both Gov. Walz and the MPCA, and shines a spotlight on their hypocrisy.

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