EPA raises red flags on Enbridge Line 5’s environmental and tribal impacts

Minnesota DNR belatedly provides new information on Line 3 aquifer breeches

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had raised a number of warnings about Enbridge’s plan to replace its Line 5 tar sands pipeline, including the pipeline’s impact on water quality and Native nations.

The pipeline would run through the watershed that feeds into the Kakagon-Bad River Slough Complex, which abuts Lake Superior. It’s an environmentally sensitive area: 10,760 acres of mostly undeveloped sloughs, bogs, and coastal lagoons, critical to the lake’s health.

For instance, the area harbors “the largest natural wild rice bed on the Great Lakes,” according to the Ramsar International Treaty. “[T]hese wild rice beds are becoming increasingly fragmented on Lake Superior – as the only remaining extensive coastal wild rice bed in the Great Lakes region, it is critical to ensuring the genetic diversity of Lake Superior wild rice.”

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‘Pipelines and Indigenous Communities’ three-day conference this weekend

The conference “Pipelines and Indigenous Communities: Extractive Infrastructures & Water-Dependent Livelihoods” will be held this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, March 18-20.

It will be held online only. Participation is free.

“This gathering will bring together Indigenous citizens and environmental leaders, Water Protectors, artists, and researchers from the Arctic, Siberia, and Upper Midwest Great Lakes regions to share experiences, explore knowledge, and discuss resistance strategies concerned with pipeline development,” organizers said.

Register here.

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Online movie screenings: MMIW and manoomin

Free online movies this week:

  • Bring Her Home, on the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, profiling three women.
  • Food that grows on Water, a short documentary on how the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipelines will affect wild rice.

Unfortunately, they’re both on the same day and overlap a bit, so you might have to choose one. Or, make it a double feature!

Please share with your networks.

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The Black Snake keeps slithering: Stop Line 5

The protracted resistance to Enbridge Line 3 was unable to stop the pipeline from becoming operational — for now — but efforts to stop the flow of toxic tar sands oil is far from over.

Enbridge Line 3 trenched through northern Minnesota, ending at a terminal in Superior, Wisc. Enbridge’s next step is to build a new Line 5 from Superior, through northern Wisconsin, continuing into Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, crossing the Great Lakes, and ending in Sarnia, Ontario.

Line 5 carries 540,000 barrels of tar sands crude daily. It’s strongly opposed by the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa in Wisconsin and the Bay Mills Indian Community in Michigan and people concerned about its environmental damage.

“The Line 5 expansion plan threatens the Apostle Islands, Copper Falls State Park, and the thriving recreation and tourism economies of northern Wisconsin,” The Sierra Club Wisconsin wrote. “Enbridge wants to use the same drilling method that poisoned waterways and aquifers in Minnesota, which could irreversibly pollute drinking water for Wisconsin residents and family farms. A spill would be disastrous for the Bad River Tribe and their extensive wild rice beds and fisheries on Lake Superior.”

Here’s one easy step you can take to oppose Line 5.

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Manoomin (wild rice) is suing the DNR in White Earth Tribal Court

Manoomin (wild rice), the White Earth Nation, and others are suing the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in White Earth Tribal Court over the DNR’s decision to approve excessive dewatering as part of Enbridge Line 3 pipeline construction.

Those speaking on behalf of Manoomin, the lead plaintiff, said Manoomin requires water to live and thrive and the Line 3 dewatering threatened its very existence during a severe drought.

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Never seen James Baldwin interview released, ‘Honoring Water Protectors’ event at Unity Unitarian, and more

In this blog:

  • Honoring Water Protectors event and photo exhibit at Unity Unitarian, Wednesday, 7-8:30 p.m.
  • Esquire: Suppressed ABC interview with James Baldwin released
  • The Tyee: Pipeline protesters punished but not pipeline firms
  • The lesser-known side of Norman Rockwell
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What does Tribal Consultation look like?

The Minnesota Legislature strengthened the state’s commitment to consulting with Native Nations, but agencies still need to follow through

On April 5, 2019, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 19-24: “Affirming the Government to Government Relationship between the State of Minnesota and Minnesota Tribal Nations: Providing for Consultation, Coordination, and Cooperation.” It commits the state to “meaningful and timely” consultation.

That’s profound. It means sharing power with Native Nations on issues of mutual concern to make decisions beneficial for both sides.

The executive order states agencies “must consider the input gathered from tribal consultation into their decision-making processes, with the goal of achieving mutually beneficial solutions.”

The Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline provided an early test for the Walz administration’s promise. The administration failed.

A bill passed during special session this year makes another effort to strengthen the state’s commitment to meaningful consultation with Native Nations.

Key to this conversation is being precise about exactly what “meaningful consultation” means and looks like.

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Star Tribune steps up to the plate on treaty rights, swings, and misses

I was excited when I read the Nov. 13 Star Tribune headline: Minnesota officials work to mend historically fraught relationship with tribes. I was hoping for a thoughtful analysis.

Reading it, I was reminded of what my friend Bob Klanderud called a “wish sandwich”: Two pieces of white bread with nothing in between other than a wish for some peanut butter.

The story lacked peanut butter, I wish it were there.

The story didn’t mention Enbridge Line 3 once. It’s an open wound and central to Minnesota’s current “fraught relationship” with Native nations in northern Minnesota.

For years, the Red Lake and White Earth nations have argued that the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline violates treaty rights to hunt, fish, and gather on lands they ceded to the U.S. government. They have received zero support from the Governor’s Office or his agency heads.

The Star Tribune was willfully ignorant of how important Line 3 is in Indian Country and/or it didn’t want to ask tough questions.

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Weekend Reads: Landback lessons, MN/DOT marks 1854 treaty boundaries, Mary Lyons in Glasgow, and Line 3 updates

In this blog:

  • A Tale of Two Landbacks
  • The Guardian: Osage Nation decries sale of sacred cave
  • MPR: MN/DOT erects road signs to mark treaty boundaries
  • Anishinaabe Grandmother Mary Lyons in Glasgow, speaking for the land and water
  • The Progressive: How Superior, Wisc. became a sacrifice zone for the oil industry
  • Line 3 resisters keep bird dogging Sen. Klobuchar on her Line 3 inaction
  • Check out ‘Let the Wave’ Line 3 video
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