“Environmental Justice” Analysis of Proposed Crude Oil Pipeline is Flawed, Lacks Native Voices

The Minnesota Department of Commerce just released a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on a proposed crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota. The project, Enbridge Line 3, would run 337 miles from the North Dakota border to Duluth/Superior, including stretches through the Mississippi headwaters region and prime wild rice waters.

The 1894-page document includes a short section on Environmental Justice. To its credit, it acknowledges the pipeline would infringe on Anishiaabe (Ojibwe) treaty rights and exacerbate historical trauma. But it lacks Native voices and is silent on some important questions.

The Environmental Justice section concludes:

Disproportionate and adverse impacts would occur to American Indian populations in the vicinity of the proposed [Line 3] Project.
Then a few lines later:
A finding of “disproportionate and adverse impacts” does not preclude selection of any given alternative. This finding does, however, require detailed efforts to avoid, mitigate, minimize, rectify, reduce, or eliminate the impact associated with the construction of the Project or any alternatives.

That’s an indirect way of saying Anishinaabe voices and treaty right don’t really matter — the project can proceed based on what non-Native people consider to be fair mitigation.

Let’s take a hard look at the Environmental Justice chapter in the EIS. Continue reading

Efforts to Stop Tar Sands Pipeline Through Northern Minnesota Enter New Phase

The long simmering debate over the wisdom of running a large tar sands crude oil pipeline through the headwaters of the Mississippi and prime northern Minnesota wild rice areas is entering a new phase. This week, the Minnesota Department of Commerce released a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the project, triggering a 60-day public comment period and more media scrutiny.

Minnesota Public Radio ran a piece headlined: New environmental review weighs alternative routes for Enbridge pipeline, City Pages ran: Enbridge pipeline report ignores alternatives (like not building a new one) and the Star Tribune ran: Enbridge pipeline could cause more damage than alternatives, but it’s not largest spill risk.

The EIS looks at the proposed expansion of Enbridge Line 3, a 1,000-mile-plus pipeline from Alberta, Canada to Superior, Wisc. Enbridge’s current Line 3 is old and failing. Enbridge wants to abandon that line in the ground and install a new and larger pipeline, including a 337-mile stretch through northern Minnesota. Part of the line would follow a new route that would take it through the Mississippi headwaters region (see Honor the Earth’s map. at right).

The Department of Commerce will revise the draft EIS based on public comments and release a final EIS this fall.

Continue reading

DAPL’s First Leak, Minnesota’s Own Pipeline Problem

File photo.

Well, the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) isn’t fully operational yet, but it had its first spill, 84 gallons of crude oil near one of its pump stations, according a story in The Guardian. It might not seem like a lot, but think what it would look like to take the hose off a gas station pump and hold the handle down so that it spilled enough gas to fill about eight sedans. (But in this case we’re talking crude oil.)

And this is when the line is brand new!

Energy Transfer Partners (ETP), the Texas-based company building DAPL, has other troubles out east. In a rush to finish its Rover natural gas pipeline in Ohio, Indian Country Today reports that ETP “spilled about two million of gallons of drilling materials in two separate accidents into two of Ohio’s few remaining wetlands.”

“Energy Transfer Partners has dumped millions of gallons of a milkshake-like substance into pristine wetlands,” said Jenn Miller, director of the Sierra Club of Ohio. “This will have massive impacts on the plant, fish and amphibian species there.”

One-third of Ohio’s endangered species rely on wetlands for habitat and survival, Miller said.

Click on the story link to see a photo of how bad the spill is.

Meanwhile, resistance to such projects continues. Indian Country Today reports on a unique alliance of Nebraska tribes, ranchers, and landowners that are resisting Keystone XL and other fossil fuel developments. Keystone XL will pass through traditional Ponca lands, lands that were taken from them. They still consider these ancestral lands as part of their culture and traditions.

On April 29, members of the Ponca Tribe began a remembrance walk to commemorate their forced removal from their traditional lands in the 1870s, the story said. The planned 12-day walk covered the 273 miles from Niobrara, Nebraska, to Barneston.

“Knowing how painful it was to have that land taken away from us, we can empathize with those farmers that own that land today. We know what it’s like to be told somebody’s going to take your property away,” said Larry Wright, Ponca Tribal Chairman of Nebraska. …

For the past three years, members of … various groups have been gathering in Neligh, Nebraska, to plant Ponca sacred corn where the pipeline’s route crosses the trail the tribe was forced to take away from their homeland. They sow the corn by hand, following principles of prayer rooted in a deep respect for the land.

Minnesota, you are next up in the efforts to stop pipelines from threatening our signature lakes and rivers. Enbridge, a energy transportation company, is proposing to abandon an old and failing tar sands pipeline through northern Minnesota and wants to install a new and larger pipeline, including a significant route change. The 337-mile pipeline, called Enbridge Line 3,  would pass through the Mississippi headwaters region and through traditional Anishinaabe wild rice areas.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce is expected to release a draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) Tuesday, May 16. The EIS should draw media attention and elevate the public debate over this project. There is expected to be a 60-day public comment period.  More information coming soon on how to get involved. For more background, see the Enbridge Line 3 Page of our blog.

New Enbridge Line 3 Page Added!

We just added a new tab on our blog for information on the proposed expansion of Enbridge Line 3 through northern Minnesota. It is our state’s version of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Enbridge is a large energy transportation company that owns a system of crude oil pipelines. It has several tar sands pipelines running through Minnesota. It wants to abandon the current Line 3 in the ground and install a new and larger pipeline. The Minnesota section of the new Line 3 would be 337 miles long, and get rerouted to cut through the Mississippi Headwaters region as well as prime wild ricing areas.

There are many reasons this is a bad idea and unnecessary. Go to the Enbridge Line 3 Page on our blog for Fact Sheets and a chronology of blogs we have written on the topic.