Minnesota’s environmental watchdog approves environmentally damaging project

No bark. No bite. MPCA rolls over, approves Enbridge Line 3 permit.

Agency uses PR spin to justify its flawed decision.

As expected, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) today approved a water crossing permit for the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline through northern Minnesota.

Enbridge is expected to begin construction sometime this month.

Gov. Tim Walz and MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop talk a good game about addressing climate change and environmental justice. This Line 3 decision makes clear they don’t live up to their promises.

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Corporate cancel culture

Billboard company refuses ad on risks of rebuilding Husky Refinery in Superior, Wisc.

Rejected billboard.

Lamar Advertising Corp., one of the largest outdoor advertising companies in the world, has refused to run billboards in Superior, Wisc. critical of rebuilding the Husky Refinery and touting the benefits of green energy, Honor the Earth said in a news release.

An equipment failure resulted in an explosion and fire at the Husky Refinery on April 26, 2018. It injured 36 people and forced the evacuation of thousands of Superior residents, the Star Tribune reported.

“The evacuations were ordered because of concerns that a release of hydrogen fluoride (HF) from the refinery could produce a deadly gas cloud. … Under the worst-case scenario, up to 180,000 people in the region surrounding the Lake Superior port community could have been hurt or killed if the blast had compromised a tank of hydrogen fluoride that sat within 200 feet of the Husky fire, according to a report by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).”

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MN Council of Churches makes anti-racism core to its work, launches multi-year truth and reparations effort

Rev. Billy Russell has served on the Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC) Board of Directors for eight years, and characterized its past racial justice work as “a bunch of noise.”

“We made noise every time something happened, from Philando Castille up til now, we’ve made noise,” said Russell, who is President of the
Minnesota State National Baptist Convention and Senior Pastor at Greater Friendship Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis.

People would want to pray, or protest, or participate in some events, but nothing led to long-term change, he said. Russell, who is now the Council’s board chair, believes that’s changing. Last month, the Council’s board voted unanimously to launch a multi-year effort of truth telling, education, and reparations with Indigenous and African American communities.

“I think this move right now is saying, ‘We’re going to make a difference,'” he said during the Councils Zoom media conference today, officially announcing the major initiative.

“I support this move,” Russell said. “It’s time. It’s past time.”

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With court challenges and permit pending, prep work ramps up on Line 3

Line 3 work preparations near Backus, Minn.

Activity has picked up at an Enbridge storage yard near Backus, with five large trailers, 10 or so porta potties, and a number of trucks with out-of-state plates, according to reports from Line 3 scouts.

Precision Pipeline of Eau Claire, Wisc. applied for the storm water permit for the 45-acre storage yard, according to the application submitted in August.

It’s unclear whether the trailers are work space or housing. Regardless, it means that as the coronavirus infection rates are increasing in both Minnesota and Wisconsin, an influx of workers could increase local transmission.

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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

Weekend Reads: New book ‘White Too Long’; Forced sterilization in U.S nothing new; Whence “White Jesus”? and more

In this blog:

  • Interview with author of ‘White Too Long’
  • Forced sterilization: The long, disgraceful history of American attacks on brown and black women’s reproductive systems
  • How Jesus became white
  • Standing Rock protester Red Fawn released from prison after 4+ years

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Six reasons Bemidji’s police-community relationships remain strained following George Floyd protests

Part 4 and last in a series on Bemidji’s May 30-31 evening curfews and the community fallout

Here are six reasons Bemidji’s police-community relations took a hit and remain unresolved following the May 30-31 evening curfews. Continue reading

If I got to ask a question at the presidential debates …

If I got to ask one question at a presidential debate, it would be this: Christian teachings have long identified greed as one of the seven deadly sins. Do you think greed is a sin, and, if so, how do you define it and how would your policies address it, particularly the racial wealth gap?

(OK, I know, that’s more than one question. But if you only get one shot, you have to wrap in several follow-up questions.)

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Catholic boarding schools, U.S. policies, swindled Indigenous families into paying for their children’s assimilation

Much has been written about how Indian children suffered tremendous physical, emotional and sexual abuse in Indian boarding schools during the 19th and 20th centuries. Some even died. Their cultures were beat out of them. They were punished for speaking their Native languages. Taken from their parents, they didn’t learn parenting skills. They were forced to take colonial names, wear colonial clothes, and worship the colonial God — “a deliberate policy of ethnocide and cultural genocide,”according to the Native American Rights Fund.

A less well known and disturbing fact is that Native American families were taken advantage of, and ended up paying tuition to Catholic boarding schools for their children’s traumatic assimilation, according to an article published Tuesday by Type Investigations, in collaboration with In These Times. Continue reading