In another sign of ‘corporate capture,’ MPCA posts video promoting Enbridge Line 3

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has posted a video on its website which can only be called a PR win for the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline, reassuring the public that everything’s going to be OK.

The MPCA’s mission statement is supposed to be “to protect and improve the environment and human health.” The MPCA has lost its way. Somehow it has come to believe that Enbridge, a Canadian corporation, is its main customer. Enbridge is not its main customer. It’s customers are the citizens of Minnesota and the environment that MPCA is charged with protecting.

The MPCA’s video is an example of “corporate capture,” a term used to describe how economic elites undermine human rights and the environment “by exerting undue influence over domestic and international decision-makers and public institutions.” Continue reading

White Earth to Walz: Live up to your pledge of ‘meaningful consultation’

Michael Fairbanks, chairman of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, has written Gov. Tim Walz reminding him of his promise of “meaningful consultation” with Native Nations, and urging him to intervene on a key Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline permit. In the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak, he’s asking Walz to direct the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) to deny Line 3’s water quality permit, allowing Enbridge to refile after the health crisis passes. This would allow time for meaningful engagement.

It’s the latest example of efforts to stop environmentally damaging projects that are moving forward while much of the country is being required to stay at home. Continue reading

This day in history, March 24, 1999: U.S. Supreme Court rules in favor of Mille Lacs Band’s treaty rights to hunt, fish, and gather

On this day in history, March 24, 1999, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Mille Lacs Band of Chippewa had treaty-protected rights to hunt, fish, and gather on the lands the Band ceded to the U.S. government by an 1837 treaty. It’s known as the Treaty of St. Peters (present day Mendota), the first treaty in which the Anishinaabe people ceded significant lands in what would become the state of Minnesota.

This treaty — and the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court decision — have particular relevance today. The Red Lake and White Earth nations have opposed the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota based on treaty rights to hunt, fish and gather along Line 3’s proposed route. They cite the 1999 U.S. Supreme Court case as precedent.

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This Day in History, March 19, 1867: U.S. treaty with Chippewa Indians gives white business leaders access to valuable timber lands

I’ve wondered how many “This Day in History” entries could be written just about broken treaties. Wikipedia says: “From 1778 to 1871, the United States government entered into more than 500 treaties with the Native American tribes; all of these treaties have since been violated in some way or outright broken by the US government.” I guess that means you could fill an entire calendar and have plenty left over.

Today’s entry concerns a treaty between the Chippewa of the Mississippi and the U.S. government on March 19, 1867 that effectively stole valuable timber lands from Chippewa people in northern Minnesota.  This was the last treaty the U.S. government negotiated with Native nations in Minnesota.

It’s part of state history that most of us who live here never learned. We need to. It’s an important correction to our history books. The wealth of early business leaders had its roots not in sweat and toil, but in deceit and outright theft of Indigenous lands and resources.

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Make your voice heard against Enbridge Line 3, oppose the MPCA’s proposed permit

Current Line 3 route (organge) and proposed route (green).

The proposed Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline route through northern Minnesota would cross more than 200 streams and other water bodies and 79 miles of wetlands. These are some of Minnesota’s cleanest waters.

You now have the several opportunities to speak out against Line 3’s risks to Minnesota’s waters, environment, and Ojibwe peoples.

For the project to move forward, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) needs to approve a water crossing permit, technically called a Section 401 Permit, a requirement of the federal Clean Water Act.

The MPCA issued a draft permit. which is now open for public comment through April 3. For more information, check out the MPCA’s page on the Section 401 Permit. Click here to go directly to the public comment page.

If you want to be heard in person, there will be two public hearings, one Tuesday March 17 in Bemidji and another Wednesday, March 18 in Grand Rapids. MN350 has organized buses from the Twin Cities for both events. Both will return to the Twin Cities on the same day. The cost is $40 if you can afford it, otherwise it’s pay what you can. Click on the link for details. Continue reading