Members of the MPCA’s Environmental Justice Advisory Committee discuss mass resignation, and other news

In this blog:

  • Members of the MPCA’s Environmental Justice Advisory Group explain why they resigned
  • As U.S. Presidents turn, Indigenous Environmental Network sues to stop Keystone XL
  • Upcoming prayerful events to oppose Enbridge Line 3
  • New York pension fund announces divestment from fossil fuels
  • For the Dakota, December is “Tree Popping Moon”
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During pandemic spike, state needs to bar Enbridge Line 3 construction and its influx of out-of-state workers

PUC to hear Red Lake, White Earth requests for pipeline delay on Friday

Native Nations, environmental groups, file suit today to block MPCA’s Line 3 permit

Native Americans are bearing a disproportionate burden of the coronavirus pandemic and getting inadequate government support.

It’s true nationally and in Minnesota. Here, Gov. Tim Walz’ administration has put Indigenous lives at risk by failing to delay Enbridge Line 3 construction and the pandemic risks it entails.

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The state failed to protect Indigenous communities from Line 3’s harms

No accountability for high-sounding promises

The state of Minnesota has paid a lot of lip service to Indigenous communities around “meaningful consultation” and “environmental justice.” As construction on the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline seems imminent, the state’s shallow commitment to these promises has become ever more apparent.

White Earth and Red Lake Nations have opposed Line 3 for years. They say its construction and future spills would damage their treaty rights to hunt, fish and gather on lands the pipeline crosses. They are currently in court trying to stop the pipeline. The state has proceeded with approvals without making sure treaty issues get resolved first.

Last week, more than half of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA’s) Environmental Justice Advisory Group resigned over the agency’s decision to approve a key Enbridge Line 3 pipeline permit. They “cannot continue to legitimize and provide cover for the MPCA’s war on black and brown people,” their letter said.

Today, the Minnesota Public Utility Commission (PUC) issued a letter saying that Enbridge was generally in compliance with its Route Permit conditions, which required plans that were supposed to benefit and protect Indigenous communities.

The PUC required Enbridge to submit a:

  • Tribal Economic Opportunity and Labor Education Plan
  • Human Trafficking Prevention Plan
  • Environmental Justice Communities Mitigation Plan

A close examination shows these plans to be inadequate and lacking in accountability.

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The Walz administration is hypocritical in approving Enbridge Line 3

More than half of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA’s) Environmental Justice Advisory Group resigned today over the agency’s decision to approve a key permit for the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline. Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan is distancing herself from Gov. Tim Walz’s support for the project.

The state’s decision to approve Line 3 has polluted the legacy of both Gov. Walz and the MPCA, and shines a spotlight on their hypocrisy.

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Governor envy

Michigan’s Whitmer nixes crude oil pipeline under the Great Lakes while Minnesota’s Walz administration greenlights crude oil pipeline that threatens state lakes and streams

It’s a tale of two states, Michigan and Minnesota.

In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced today that the state was revoking and terminating Enbridge’s easement to operate crude oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac.

They cited Enbridge’s bad-faith efforts to protect the environment and Enbridge Line 5’s threat to the Great Lakes.

In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota DNR announced this week they would allow Enbridge to build a crude oil pipeline trenching through 355 miles of northern Minnesota, threatening climate, clean waters and treaty rights.

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News and events: Updates on DAPL, Keystone XL, winter gear drive for Fond du Lac children and more

In this blog:

  • Standing Rock, other Native nations, try again to shut down DAPL
  • Judge denies Native nation’s bid to halt Keystone oil pipeline work
  • Tanka Fund raising money to return buffalo to Native lands
  • Winter gear drive for Fond du Lac children
  • Students at the U. of M. Forest Resources Dept. sign-on letter to address systemic racism 
  • A look back at Native vote suppression
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Line 3 and political hypocrisy

When political leaders make decisions that contradict their promises, they owe the public an explanation.

Such is the case with the decisions state leaders have made on the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline. This project seems to fly in the face of political promises to protect the environment, address climate changes, and honor treaty rights.

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State’s new ‘Water Plan’ looks good on paper, critics say it lacks accountability

And what about the ‘Winters Doctrine’?

Members of the public hope and expect that when they take time to attend public hearings to testify on policies that affect their lives, such as protecting clean water, their questions will get answered and their comments will make a difference.

Yet too often it feels like a futile exercise. People get two or three minutes to speak. There’s no give and take. Leaders don’t answer the tough questions speakers pose. The committee chair will simply say, “thank you, next speaker.”

Such was the case at the Sept. 9 meeting of the Minnesota Environmental Quality Board (EQB), where a group of citizens asked really good questions about the 2020 Water Plan and were treated as an annoyance. Continue reading

PUC commits to consult and engage with Native Nations

Honor the Earth’s Winona LaDuke has been on outspoken critic of the PUC.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for the first time has established an official policy on Tribal Engagement and Consultation.

In it, the Commission commits to annual consultations with each Native Nation and establishing a formal process to consult with Native Nations throughout the year when specific issues emerge. Continue reading

Healing Minnesota Stories milestone: Blog tops 1,000 posts, please share with your networks

Healing Minnesota Stories Founder Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs leading a Sacred Sites Tour.

Last week, Healing Minnesota Stories’ blog passed a milestone, publishing its 1,000th post since we started writing in 2015. Below, we provide links to some of the best-read blogs.

Healing Minnesota Stories’ mission is to create dialogue, understanding, healing, and repair between Indigenous and non-Indigenous peoples, particularly with those non-Indigenous people who belong to faith communities.

Since our organization launched in 2011, Healing Minnesota Stories Founder Jim Bear Jacobs became Program Director for Racial Justice for the Minnesota Council of Churches. The blog has followed suit, expanding its coverage of racial justice issues, such as the recent protests over George Floyd’s murder.

We have 377 followers so far. Please consider following the blog if you don’t already, and sharing it with friends and networks so we can expand our reach.

The blog’s main author is Scott Russell of Minneapolis, a volunteer with Healing Minnesota Stories. He can be reached by posting comments in the blog, or at scottrussell@usfamily.net.

Comments, criticisms, and questions always welcomed. Thanks for your support over the past five years! Continue reading