This Monday, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) took its final vote approving Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline, the end of a long and painful years’ long process where many people who participated felt they played by the rules and got totally screwed, their voices ignored.
That same evening, PUC Commissioners John Tuma and Dan Lipschultz participated in Bryant Lake Bowl’s “Theater of Public Policy,” which mixes policy wonks with improv comedy. This is how it was supposed to run: Tuma and Lipschultz were there to be interviewed about how the PUC works, then improv actors were supposed to riff a few sketches based on their stories, followed by audience questions.
The booing started before the show opened. The curtain dropped before the improv started. Heated interruptions and pointed questions from the audience shut it down. Continue reading →
As expected, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) today rejected requests to reconsider its approval of the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota. As predictable as it was, the decision remains heart breaking.
Red Lake, White Earth, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Honor the Earth, the Sierra Club, the Youth Climate Intervenors, and Friends of the Headwaters had asked the PUC to reconsider approving Line 3. Commissioners summarily and unanimously dismissed their request, 5-0. The PUC continued to ignore the Environmental Impact Statement’s conclusion that Line 3 would generate $287 billion in climate damage. It continued to ignore the Administrative Law Judge’s findings that approving Enbridge’s preferred route failed to meet the cost/benefit test. It continued to ignore Commerce’s conclusion that Enbridge failed to prove Line 3 was needed. It continued to ignore the impacts the pipeline would have on treaty rights.
The PUC took no comments from intervening parties asking for reconsideration. The whole process probably lasted five minutes, enough time for a few commissioners to say they had already considered these issues and there was nothing more to talk about.
The PUC gave Enbridge pretty much everything it wanted. It’s an example of corporate capture, where the government institutions created to protect the public get co-opted by corporate interests. Its the Minnesota version of what is happening with the Environmental Protection Agency.
Proposals to build new crude oil pipelines are an investment in an old and failing energy infrastructure. They reflect a world view that favors short-term profits over the long-term health of local economies and the planet itself. Investors make money off selling refined gas, but shift long-term costs to future generations — costs from destructive oil mining practices, costs from future oil spills, and costs from climate change.
It is no wonder that Native nations and indigenous advocates have lead efforts to stop new crude oil pipelines, as they hold to a world view that considers the impacts of decisions seven generations into the future.
As we head into what is expected to be a frustrating Monday meeting at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) regarding the future of Enbridge Line 3, let’s pause for a moment to reflect on some recent wins. They are a reminder that this work takes years, allies continue the resistance, and we do have victories. Continue reading →
This Monday, November 19, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is meeting to cast what could be its final vote on Enbridge Line 3, opening the next phase of resistance, including legal challenges. Our presence and show of resistance remains vitally important. Please show up if you can.
There are a number of related Line 3 educational and fundraising events in the coming month, listed below. Here are the details on the PUC meeting.
Where: Minnesota Senate Building, 95 University Ave W in St. Paul (NOTE: Don’t go to the PUC offices where meetings are usually held.)
When: Arrive by 8:30 a.m. if possible, the seats could fill up. The meeting starts at 9:30 a.m. This meeting could be extended to Tuesday and/or Wednesday depending on deliberations.
Agenda: Voting on: 1) Whether to reconsider approval of Enbridge Line 3’s Certificate of Need; 2) Whether or not Enbridge’s insurance policies are protected as “trade secrets,” keeping them from public view; and, 3) Whether or not to admit into the legal record items submitted by Line 3 opponents that missed the filing deadline due to problems with the state’s electronic filing system.
Ben Jammin Yawakie has created a Go Fund Me Page to help those in the homeless camp along Hiawatha Avenue stay warm until the temporary housing is available. (According to his LinkedIn page, Yawakie is a research assistant at the Public Health Law Center.) According to his fundraising page, the money will help pay for “firewood, hand warmers, blankets, and any other heating supplies that are desperately needed as the snow and below freezing temperatures have arrived.” Many of those in the camp are Native American.
An Oct. 31 MPR story updated the camp situation and difficult choices faced by those staying there.
Hennepin County, which operates about 1,000 shelter beds, says it’s been able to place 18 encampment families into shelters. They’ve found supportive housing for three families. But tents continue to pop up, now surpassing 200.
The city agreed to spend $1.5 million to build an emergency shelter on property owned by the Red Lake Nation. They hope to have it ready by early December to house about 150 people through winter. It’s described as a low-barrier alternative to traditional shelter, which city and tribal leaders hope will be attractive to people at the encampment.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has set meeting dates for what could be its final votes on the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands crude oil pipeline: Monday, Nov. 19, 9:30 a.m. at the Minnesota Senate Building, 95 University Avenue West, Room 1150, St. Paul. The official announcement notes the meeting could be extended to Tuesday and Wednesday.