Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light is hosting an interactive discussion on treaty rights and crude oil pipelines, Sunday, Feb. 25th, 1-3 p.m., at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 1895 Laurel Ave., Saint Paul. Here is the Facebook post.
The discussion will include the history and continued significance of treaties in Minnesota, and the impact of the proposed Line 3 pipeline on treaty rights today.
Quick background: Canadian pipeline company Enbridge has several tar sands crude oil pipelines running through northern Minnesota. (They enter the state’s northwest corner and run southeasterly to connect with other pipelines in Superior, Wisc.)
Enbridge Line 3 is old and failing. Enbridge’s plan is to abandon Line 3 in the ground and build a new and larger pipeline along a new route. The new route avoids crossing reservation lands, but it does cross large areas of what is known ans 1855 treaty territory. These are lands where the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) have protected rights to hunt, fish and gather. The Line 3 review process has done little to nothing to recognize those treaty rights.
Line 3’s new route also crosses the headwaters of the Mississippi River.
Rev. Robert Two Bulls will lead the Sunday discussion. He is a Missioner for the Department of Indian Work and Multicultural Ministries of the Episcopal Church of Minnesota.
On Valentine’s Day, a group of more than 60 of us crowded into the Sierra Club North Star Chapter’s offices in Minneapolis to march in solidarity with the numerous Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women’s Marches happening in communities in the United States and Canada.
The Sierra Club was asked to help co-sponsor this year’s march by Rene Ann Goodrich of the Native Lives Matter Coalition. This is the fourth year Native Lives Matter has held a march in the Twin Cities and Twin Ports (Duluth/Superior) and the second year the Sierra Club has organized a solidarity march. In addition to the Coalition, co-sponsors included MN350, the Women’s Congress for Future Generations, and Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light.
Winona LaDuke, founder of Honor the Earth, spoke during a brief program at the Sierra Club, saying every indigenous family she knows in northern Minnesota “has someone they have lost.”
Joe Vital, a member of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Oil and Tars Sands Committee, participated in the march. Vital, also a member of the Red Lake band of Ojibwe, commented on how it was odd that some passersby seemed to think the march was something of a parade.
“For many of us, it’s mourning,” said Vital, who has an auntie who is missing. “It’s weird. We’re in solidarity in mourning.” Continue reading →
Precinct Caucuses are coming up the evening of Tuesday, February 6. Caucuses are the first step in the process that political parties use to develop their statewide party platforms and endorse candidates, including Governor.
Anyone can propose a resolution at the Precinct Caucus. There are many worthy issues that need our attention, but consider introducing a resolution to stop the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands crude oil pipeline and similar projects through our state.
Enbridge has proposed to abandon its old and failing Line 3 and install a new and larger Line 3 along a new route. The line would come down from Canada, enter Minnesota at the state’s northwest corner, and travel 337 miles to Duluth/Superior. Along the way it would cross the Mississippi headwaters and pass by clean lakes, rivers, and wild rice beds. Significantly it would affect Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) treaty rights. While the new line would not cross reservation lands, the Anishaabe retain treaty rights to hunt, fish and gather across much of northern Minnesota. A spill would affect those rights.
Here is proposed caucus resolution language from MN350.
Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline Resolution
WHEREAS, nearly 2.5 million barrels of crude oil already flow through Minnesota daily on Enbridge Energy pipelines;
WHEREAS, the demand for petroleum based products is down 19% since 2004 in the state;
WHEREAS, the route Enbridge Energy is proposing for the new Line 3 “replacement” pipeline cuts through 1854 and 1855 treaty protected territory and the headwaters of the Mississippi;
WHEREAS, the intervention before the Public Utilities Commission by five tribal nations, additional citizens groups and the Department of Commerce’s expert witness and staff, all maintain that the new pipeline is not needed and the old line should be removed;
WHEREAS, a spill of crude oil, and particularly tar sands oil, places water, wild rice, lakeshore property and the tourism industry at risk;
WHEREAS; the tar sands crude oil extraction process has the highest carbon cost of any other fuel and addressing climate change is increasingly urgent;
BE IT RESOLVED that the ____________________ Party supports:
The opposition to any new crude oil pipeline in Minnesota, including Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 “replacement”;
The right of sovereign nations’ to determine what construction projects take place in their respective territories.
For many years, large corporations have run crude oil pipelines across a small piece of land owned by the Red Lake Nation, in effect trespassing on reservation property.
Red Lake and the pipelines’ current owner, Enbridge, had been in negotiations over a cash-and-land deal and reached a tentative deal in 2015. That just fell through. The Red Lake Tribal Council voted 5-3 last week to rescind the deal, according to news reports. (The 2015 deal had included an $18.5 million payment to Red Lake, but that payment was not made.)
The Tribal Council vote was the result of the tireless efforts of Red Lake member Marty Cobenais, who has opposed crude oil pipelines through the state and opposed efforts to sell tribal lands.
It’s not clear yet how Red Lake’s decision will affect Enbridge and the pipelines that cross that tract of land. (On a separate front, Enbridge is trying to push through a deal to expand and reroute one of its pipelines, Line 3, which is a whole separate controversy, and written about elsewhere on this blog.)
On Martin Luther King Day, I would like to explore a different question: How did this trespass on Red Lake land happen in the first place? It’s symbolic of how easy it has been historically (and today) to ignore and take advantage of Native rights.
In a show of unity, five bands of the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) nation filed a joint motion to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) seeking delay on a key vote on the Line 3 pipeline until the proper historic properties review is done.
The Fond du Lac, Mille Lacs, Leech Lake, White Earth and Red Lake bands filed their joint motion Jan. 2 seeking the delay until a proper historic properties review is complete.
In December, the PUC found the environmental impact statement (EIS) on Enbridge’s Line 3 tar sands pipeline “inadequate” and ordered changes to the document. However, the changes it ordered were very modest. Indigenous and environmental groups see much deeper flaws in the EIS.
The Aninishinaabe legal brief says the law requires the EIS to include a thorough historical properties review, currently missing from the document. It describe the work on historical properties so far as “so inadequate that it could be used as a ‘what not to do’ example in future guidance.” It continues:
The lead state agency, the Department of Commerce … has all but ignored its obligations under state historic preservation law. The DOC has disregarded the explicit advice and direction of the State Historic Preservation Office (“SHPO”) and the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council (“MIAC”) The DOC has ignored the guidance of its own tribal liaison — who was hired for the express purpose of coordinating with the tribes on the Project.
The brief offers an example of why this kind of review is important.
As the Commission [PUC] knows, in 2017, the state Department of Transportation failed to conduct full historic-properties review and consult with tribal governments in the area of the Highway 23 road and bridge project in Duluth. The result was destruction of a tribal burial site. There is no substitute for full and timely historic evaluation. (page 4)
The piece is written by Ann Manning of Minneapolis, director of Women’s Congress for Future Generations and associate director of the Science & Environmental Health Network. In critiquing the Line 3 tar sands pipeline project, her Op/Ed says:
Minnesotans should be fully aware not only of the environmental risks this so-called “good for the economy” project entails, but also the human risks. Large numbers of transient workers, often from out of state, will descend on small Minnesota towns along the pipeline construction route. They are housed in what’s become known as “man camps.”
The workers have no connection to the community, get paid large sums of money and have little to do in their free time. Some will bring trouble, attracting the drug trade, sex trafficking or both. They will pollute the land by day, and women and children by night.
Click on the link above for the full story.
The Line 3 environmental impact statement (EIS) discusses the impact of sex trafficking. The EIS says the impact would fall disproportionately on Native women and girls. See Chapter 11: Environmental Justice section:
Concerns have been raised regarding the link between an influx of temporary workers and the potential for an associated increase in sex trafficking, which is well documented, particularly among Native populations. (National Congress of American Indians Policy Research Center 2016). American Indian and minority populations are often at higher risk if they are low-income, homeless, have a lack of resources, addiction, and other factors often found in tribal communities (MDH 2014).
I appreciate that the Star Tribune ran this piece, though I disagree with the headline “Enbridge pipeline’s ripple effect,” as it seems to minimize the impact of sex trafficking as only a “ripple.” This is an incredibly important issue. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission needs to reject Line 3.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) had expected a final vote on the Line 3 tar sands crude oil pipeline by late April; now it looks like the vote will be pushed back by a couple of months into July.
The proposed Line 3 pipeline expansion through northern Minnesota threatens lakes, rivers, and wild rice areas. It violates treaty rights. It will add to climate change. It is an investment in 19th Century energy solutions instead of looking to the future. Any project delay is good news. It adds costs to the project and increases the likelihood that it can be stopped. Continue reading →