It’s a great disappointment that Minnesota’s two U.S. senators have shown no leadership in stopping the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline. They’ve avoided taking a position altogether. Young people have been trying to catch up with them, get them to support the Line 3 resistance, and urge President Biden to pull the pipeline’s permits.
In other news, Canada’s invoking treaty rights to keep Enbridge Line 5 operating in Michigan when treaty rights have been roundly ignored in Minnesota around Line 3.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (PCA) have utterly failed the public in proactively explaining what is happening on the ground regarding Enbridge Line 3 pipeline construction.
The project has traumatized many Native peoples, who say Line 3 violates their treaty rights and threatens their sacred wild rice. It has traumatized many other citizens, particularly young people, who believe Line 3’s climate impacts will significantly damage their future.
Water protectors on the ground still see problems along the route and struggle to get answers.
It’s the state’s job to inform the public about matters of great public interest. The state’s lack of transparency is inexcusable and infuriating.
Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order in 2019 committing the state and its various departments and agencies to “meaningful and timely consultation” with Native Nations on issues of mutual concern. So why didn’t the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) meaningfully consult with Tribes on Line 3? First in a two-part series.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) approved several key permits for Enbridge to build its Line 3 tar sands pipeline through northern Minnesota’s streams, wetlands, and wild rice areas, including one certificate that’s supposed to protect water quality.
Under Walz’s executive order 19-24, the MPCA was supposed to engage in meaningful consultation with Native Nations. By all appearances, the agency failed to do so on Line 3.
Examining the MPCA’s tribal relations policies tells why.
Let’s be honest. For those who have spent years opposing the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline, these last few weeks have been pretty painful.
The Treaties Not Tar Sands rally on the Minnesota State Capitol grounds Aug. 23-26 was met with concrete barricades, fencing, and large law enforcement contingent. It was unnecessary, unwelcoming, and un-American.
The legal avenues closed on efforts to reverse the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s Line 3 permits. The Minnesota Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal.
The Minnesota Court of Appeals upheld the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s Line 3 water crossing permit.
Enbridge said all new Line 3 pipeline is in the ground and buried.
There still are lawsuits pending at the federal level to stop Line 3, and to pressure Biden to take action.
Remember, the courts do get things wrong. In Plessy v. Ferguson, the U.S. Supreme Court voted 7-1 to uphold a “Separate but Equal” law.
So far, the courts have got it wrong on Line 3.
The Stop Line 3 campaign will be entering a new phase. I don’t know what that is yet.
I do know Enbridge has less than a decade before it has to move the other five pipelines in its mainline corridor. Its easement to cross the Leech Lake Reservation expires in 2029 and Leech Lake has been clear it wants the pipelines gone.
There’s more work ahead and the movement is getting stronger.
I spoke to candidate Tim Walz twice when he was running for Governor in 2017, once at a house party, once at a DFL unity event at a St. Paul brewery.
Both times I asked him one question: Where do you stand on the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline?
Both times he assured me he opposed the project. “Peggy would never let me do that,” he said, a reference to his running mate, Peggy Flanagan, an enrolled member of the White Earth Nation and then an outspoken Line 3 critic.
Walz spoke briefly about Line 3 Friday on MPR. I wasn’t surprised at his comments, but still angry.
Minnesota law enforcement launched an over-the-top, fear-and-intimidation response to water protectors camped out in front the Capitol Friday.
The ‘Treaties Not Tar Sands’ rally had run Monday-Thursday on the Minnesota State Capitol Mall, calling on elected officials to shut down the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline. It was a peaceful scene; roughly 20 tipis had been erected on the mall.
By late Thursday, a single large tipi remained. Native leaders were holding ceremony. Others were sleeping on the mall, according to one participant.
On Friday morning, law enforcement officers approached from multiple directions and swarmed the lone tipi. [Update: A media release from ResistLine3.org estimated 200 officers responded.] It as if they were trying to prevent a hostage situation or a bank robbery.
They demanded the tipi come down.
Indigenous leaders had to negotiate to be allowed to take the tipi down so that it could be saved rather than have law enforcement tear it down, one source said.
[Update: Six people had been arrested Friday.] The charges were not immediately known.
This situation raises significant questions about law enforcement’s bias against Indigenous water protectors and its ability to respond in proportion to the situation.