The PUC Fog Machine: Commission Selectively Uses Line 3’s Environmental Analysis, Favoring Enbridge

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) selectively used environmental information to approve the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota. The Commission’s analysis undermines its credibility, making it nearly impossible to view it as an impartial and fair decision maker.

Line 3’s final environmental impact statement (FEIS) estimates the pipeline would create $287 billion in climate change costs over the next 30 years, or nearly $10 billion annually. That number alone should have put the brakes on the project. The PUC’s Sept 5 order swept aside these huge costs with the thinnest of justifications. The PUC cherry-picked information from the environmental impact statement to undermine the report’s climate science, referred to as the “social cost of carbon.”

What the PUC failed to tell the public is that the federal government finds the “social cost of carbon” analysis “a useful measure.” Further, the $287 billion figure likely underestimates the true climate change costs from Line 3, according to information in the environmental impact statement.

To put things bluntly, the PUC selectively used facts to approve a project that would allow Enbridge to make short-term profits by shifting the pipeline’s long-term climate change costs onto the rest of the world, costs such as lost agricultural production and flood damage.

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Indigenous Peoples Day Events and Upcoming Films

In this blog:

  • Indigenous Peoples Day events in the Twin Cities, Oct. 6-8.
  • American Holocaust, a hard hitting film on the link between Hitler’s treatment of Jews and the U.S. government’s treatment of American Indians, Oct. 23.
  • The People’s Protectors, premier of a PBS film on the impact of the Vietnam War on Native American communities, Nov. 1

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Legal Challenges Take Shape Against Line 3 and the PUC’s Anti-Indian, Anti-Environment Vote

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC’s) deeply flawed decision approving the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota likely will get challenged in court. Some of the legal arguments against the PUC are now coming into focus.

Seven organizations and tribal governments filed motions asking the PUC to reconsider its vote approving Line 3’s Certificate of Need. The Minnesota Department of Commerce’s motion says the PUC’s decision: “contains legal errors and ambiguities.” The Youth Climate Intervenors’ motion said that: “The Commission’s explicit denial of climate science and wholesale dismissal of treaty rights as ‘unnecessary’ are appalling.” A joint motion by Honor the Earth, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, and the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, said the PUC’s order: “fails to interpret state law to favor the public interest and protect the environment as against private interests.”

It’s doubtful the PUC will budge and reverse its vote, but this is a necessary procedural step to allow Line 3 opponents to sue in court. The legal arguments contained in these motions could form the basis for future lawsuits. If this issue does go to court, the PUC will have a lot of explaining to do about why it consistently favored Enbridge and ignored public testimony and the administrative law judge’s independent recommendations.

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News and Events: Standing Rock Film Screening, Youth March for Fossil Free Future, and More

News and events in this post:

  • Oct. 8: Augsburg Native American Film Series: The Eagle and The Condor–From Standing Rock with Love.
  • Oct. 28 Our Right, Our Future: March with Minnesota Youth for a Fossil Free Future
  • Construction on Keystone XL Begins Near Rosebud as Three Native Nations Sue to Stop It
  • Minneapolis City Council Accepts the Red Lake Nation’s Help to Relocate Homeless Camp

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PUC Final Order Approving Line 3 is Racist

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC’s) Sept. 5 final order approving the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline is disturbing. It ignores significant arguments brought forward by Native nations, environmental groups and youth, cherry picking facts to justify its decision.

The order has many flaws in how it addresses climate change, environmental risks to our state’s clean waters, and other issues that will be explored in a later blog. This blog focuses on the order’s racist conclusion that the PUC doesn’t need to consider the pipeline’s treaty rights impacts. Continue reading

Strib: MN Commerce Dept. Asks the PUC to Reverse Its Ruling and Deny Enbridge Line 3 Permits

Breaking news from the Star Tribune: Minnesota Commerce Department asks utility regulators to vacate Enbridge’s approval for Line 3. It starts out:

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has asked state utility regulators to vacate their decision to grant Enbridge a permit for a controversial oil pipeline across northern Minnesota.

The Commerce Department, in a regulatory filing Tuesday, claims the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) ruling is “affected by legal error and is unsupported by the evidence.”

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What is the ‘Necessity Defense’? Updates on DAPL and Keystone XL

File photo.

News reports about the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and Keystone XL have faded into the background locally, but resistance continues from Standing Rock to Louisiana.

Here are a few updates:

  • North Dakota prosecutors dropped felony charges against Chase Iron Eyes for criminal trespass and incitement of a riot. The charges stem from DAPL events in early 2017. Iron Eyes was ready to put on a ‘Necessity Defense.’
  • A federal judge sided with water protectors who challenged the Trump administration’s fast track approval of a reroute of the Keystone XL pipeline through Nebraska.
  • Louisiana authorities are using harsher trespass laws to prosecute water protectors opposing construction of the Bayou Bridge Pipeline, DAPL’s southern extension. A fund-raising concert is planned in Duluth for Saturday, Oct. 13 to raise money for these water protectors.

Details follow. Continue reading