Enbridge Line 3 Gets Late Backing from U.S. DOT; Honor the Earth Starts ‘Welcome Water Protectors’ Campaign

MPR reports that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration is a late entrant into the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands crude oil pipeline debate — recommending the state approve the Canadian company’s request. The letter, arriving at the 11th hour, could foreshadow Trump administration intervention on Line 3, similar to what it did on the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Today was Day Two of four scheduled meetings for the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to debate and vote on Enbridge Line 3. The process already appears to be taking longer than expected. Continue reading

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PUC Opens Final Line 3 Debate: State Remains Firm that Pipeline Isn’t Needed; Enbridge Adds More Concessions

People began lining up two hours before the start of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission Line 3 hearing in order to get a ticket.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) today began the first day of the final hearings on the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands crude oil pipeline, with a vote expected later this month. Day One went as well as could be expected for pipeline opponents.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce opened with a strong statement — reiterating its position that the state doesn’t need this pipeline. Meanwhile, Enbridge offered a new list of concessions — possibly an indication executives know their proposal is in trouble.

The PUC has scheduled additional hearings for Tuesday, and next week on Tuesday and Wednesday. A final vote could happen on any of those days, or the hearings could be extended. The PUC will vote on both a Certificate of Need and a Route Permit.

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PUC Staff Recommends Approving Line 3 Pipeline Along Enbridge’s Preferred Route

After pubic comments overwhelmingly opposed a new Enbridge Line 3 pipeline, after the Minnesota Department of Commerce said the pipeline wasn’t needed, after the Administrative Law Judge reviewing the proposal said the costs outweigh the benefits of building a new and larger Line 3 along a new route, the staff at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has recommended giving Enbridge what it wanted. Continue reading

Judge Takes Sides in Line 3’s Treaty Rights Debate When She Should Have Stayed Neutral

In her recommendations on the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline, Administrative Law Judge Ann O’Reilly took sides on the critical issue of treaty rights when she should have stayed neutral. Instead, she staked out a legal position outside the scope of her work and one detrimental to the Ojibwe Bands.

O’Reilly is not a treaty law expert. More importantly, O’Reilly’s recommendations are meant for the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the PUC isn’t going to take a position on treaty rights. It’s beyond the PUC’s scope. O’Reilly should have stayed neutral and articulated the PUC’s predicament: The PUC can’t decide treaty law disputes yet treaty rights are a critical issue underpinning its Line 3 decision. Continue reading

Religious Leaders Speak Out Against Enbridge Line 3 as Vote Looms this Month

Religious leaders gathered at Leif Erickson Park before crossing to the state Capitol to deliver their letter to Gov. Mark Dayton.
Curtiss DeYoung, CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches

Curtiss DeYoung, CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches, stood before a crowd of hundreds of people Monday afternoon at Leif Erickson Park to state the shared belief of many religious leaders that the state should reject the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline on moral grounds.

“Oftentimes the faith community historically has been on the wrong side, particularly as it relates to indigenous communities and sovereign nations who we are in relationship with.” DeYoung said. “Today we decided to be on the right side.”

The event was organized by the Minnesota Poor People’s Campaign, and Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light (MN IPL), and had the support of the Minnesota Council of Churches. (Star Tribune article here.)

The event, held just west of the state Capitol, included civil rights songs, a Jewish cantor, a brass band, chants, and a Buddhist moment of silence. It included indigenous prayer and truth-telling. It included a number of brief speeches from religious leaders from different traditions. But the event’s main goal was to Stop Line 3. To that end, the group delivered an interfaith letter opposing Line 3 to both Governor Dayton and the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Some 540 faith leaders signed.

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A Desperate Enbridge Plays “We Care About Indians” Card, Motives Seem Suspect

Enbridge CEO Al Monaco was in Duluth this week in a desperate attempt to shore up support for his proposed Line 3 crude oil pipeline expansion through northern Minnesota. He was throwing out new incentives, promising jobs for Native Americans and trying to woo supporters. Canadian-based energy transportation giant Enbridge is trying to put on a “Good Neighbor” face, when in fact its motives seem less than altruistic.

Hundreds packed a Line 3 public hearing in Bemidji. Public response was overwhelmingly against the project.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is expected to vote on Line 3 later this month, and things aren’t looking good for Enbridge. The Administrative Law Judge that handled Line 3 testimony issued her report in April, concluding the costs outweighed the benefits for the new pipeline route Enbridge proposed. The Line 3’s environmental impact statement (EIS) concluded that Enbridge’s proposal would add $287 billion in climate change costs over 30 years, costs Enbridge is passing on to the public. The Minnesota Department of Commerce concluded the pipeline isn’t needed. Ojibwe bands affected by the pipeline strongly oppose it. Hundreds of the state’s religious leaders are registering their opposition. Public Testimony on Line 3 overwhelmingly opposed it: Of the roughly 72,000 comments, 68,000 or 94 percent were thumbs down.

Line 3’s window of possibility is still ajar, however. The Administrative Law Judge left open the option of rebuilding Line 3 in the current trench, a plan neither Enbridge nor Line 3 opponents like. So Enbridge came to town bearing gifts to try to keep its proposal going. It’s a strong indication that Enbridge knows its project is in trouble.

A Friday Duluth New Tribune story headlined: Enbridge CEO rallies with Line 3 supporters in Duluth outlines Enbridge’s gift basket.

According to the story:

Enbridge … said it is spending $100 million to hire Native American workers and businesses for the Line 3 project. The program would “target opportunities for tribal nations on the U.S. side of the project, which is mostly Minnesota,” Monaco said.

Comment: If Enbridge truly was interested in building relationships and supporting Ojibwe people and their governments, it would have made this offer at the beginning of the process, not the end. Significantly, Enbridge has not engaged the Ojibwe in a meaningful conversation about treaty rights. Five Ojibwe Bands in northern Minnesota filed a joint petition to reject the Line 3 EIS because it lacked an historic preservation assessment on the proposed new pipeline corridor. The petition criticized state efforts, but Enbridge did nothing to support the tribes in this matter.

In the worst-case scenario that the PUC approves Line 3 in some form, it’s good to have this provision supporting Native American workers and businesses. But the offer seems more marketing and desperation than altruism.

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Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe: Reject Enbridge Line 3’s Certificate of Need and Route Permit

Part III of a series looking at Ojibwe Band responses to Administrative Law Judge Ann O’Reilly’s report and recommendations on the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline. [Note: Ojibwe is the colonial name for the Anishinaabe. Ojibwe is used in this story because of its use as an official band name.]

The Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe’s offered a unique response among the various Ojibwe bands to Administrative Law Judge Ann O’Reilly’s report on the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline.

While other bands tended to focus on treaty rights, the Mille Lacs Band led with a strong argument on the economic reasons to deny Line 3. The Mille Lacs Band said: “THE EVIDENCE IN THE RECORD DOES NOT SUPPORT A NEED FOR THE PROJECT.”

O’Reilly’s report, and Mille Lacs response, were sent to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), the body expected to vote on Line 3 in late June. The PUC will vote on Line 3’s Certificate of Need and Route Permit. The Mille Lacs letter addresses both issues.

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