An Executive Order that wasn’t, Capitol Rally to oppose Line 3 dewatering, Shell River Rally, and more

In this blog:

  • The Executive Order that wasn’t
  • White Earth pushes against Line 3 dewatering increases, Capitol rally Wednesday at 3 p.m.
  • Women for the Rivers Rally at Shell River Thursday, noon-3 p.m., with V and Marisa Tomei
  • Last push for Line 3 monitors; we need eyes on the Horizontal Directional Drilling sites
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Rev. Pamela Ngunjiri will help lead the Minnesota Council of Church’s truth-telling and reparations work

“We don’t always see the face of God in everybody’s face,” Rev. Pamela Ngunjiri tells her congregation. “And that’s the problem with racism. Somewhere along the line the humanity of that particular group has been taken away and that has to be restored.”

Ngunjiri (pronounced Go-jiri) was recently hired as the Co-Director for Racial Justice for the Minnesota Council of Churches (MCC). She joins the other Co-Director and Healing Minnesota Stories’ founder Jim Bear Jacobs. Together they are leading the Council’s multi-year effort at truth telling, education and reparations with both the African American and Native American communities.

Ngunjiri and Jacobs say the Council’s first truth-telling event will be held in September, details coming soon. Until them, please meet Rev. Ngunjiri.

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The PUC isn’t acting in the public interest or even answering public questions about flaws in its Line 3 permits

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) is a uniquely confusing state entity. It’s not a state agency. It’s not a court. It’s a quasi-judicial entity, something of a hybrid which also happens to lack both transparency and accountability.

I watched the PUC’s deliberations on the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline going back to 2017-18, and I remain confused about why the Commission seemed to bend over backwards for Enbridge and ignore the public interest.

It led me to reread the PUC’s convoluted mission statement and question whether that’s part of the problem:

The Commission’s mission is to create and maintain a regulatory environment that ensures safe, adequate and efficient utility services at fair, reasonable rates consistent with State telecommunications and energy policies. It does so by providing independent, consistent, professional and comprehensive oversight and regulation of utility service providers. One of the key functions of the commission in performing this mission is to balance the private and public interests affected in each docket, and to make decisions that appropriately balance these interests in a manner that is “consistent with the public interest.” (Emphasis added.)

PUC website

If you blur your eyes and don’t think too hard, you might think it’s reasonable. Boiling it down into its simplest terms, it makes no sense. The mission statement says the PUC is supposed to balance the private and public interest in a manner consistent with the public interest.

It implies there are two kinds of “public interest.” One is the full-blown public interest. Then the PUC balances the public interest against the corporate interest — compromising the public interest — and still comes up with a decision that’s “consistent with the public interest”?

The PUC didn’t consider the public interest in approving Line 3. The public interest was nowhere to be found.

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Water protectors highlight Willow Creek frac-out, and the out-of-whackness of state Line 3 regulators and law enforcement

A government-Enbridge alliance is doing all it can to block Minnesota citizens from observing and critiquing the construction of Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline.

Tania Aubid, Winona LaDuke, Shanai Matteson and other water protectors arrived around 7 a.m. this morning at the site where Enbridge is drilling a tunnel for Line 3 under the Willow River in Aitkin County. The water protectors found what appeared to be a “frac-out,” the release of pipeline drilling mud into the river.

The state’s response focused more on trying to intimidate the water protectors for their activism than addressing the frac-out, Matteson said.

It’s a sign of the state’s upside down values. It raises questions about the state’s ability and interest in protecting the environment for future generations and who state agencies are working for.

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Water protectors take action at Line 3’s Willow River crossing, possible pipeline drilling problem found

This is a breaking story and will be updated.

Water protectors at Willow River. Photo: Keri Pickett, Honor the Earth

Early this morning, “dozens of water protectors standing in solidarity with Indigenous-led resistance shut down work at a Line 3 construction site by locking themselves to equipment and building several blockades on access roads,” according to a media release from Honor the Earth and Resist Line 3. “Two people surrounded by flowers locked themselves inside of a vehicle, while two others locked to drilling equipment inside the site.”

Willow River is one of 21 sites where Enbridge is boring a tunnel underneath the river, using a technique called Horizontal Directional Drilling, or HDD. It requires the use of drilling mud to keep the tunnel open.

Those on the ground are concerned that the HDD might have resulted in a “frac out” where the drilling mud escapes the tunnel through cracks in the soil and reaches the surface, in this case Willow River. See this video of water protector Shanai Matteson explaining what’s being seen on the ground and concerns about the drilling mud in the Willow River.

The Minnesota Office of Pipeline Safety has already contacted Enbridge about the incident, sources say.

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An update on criticism of MPR’s coverage of Enbridge Line 3 and human trafficking risks

On June 2, I published the blog: “MPR fails to cover Line 3’s connection to human trafficking and recent trafficking stings.

The post recounted how four workers on the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline have been arrested in two separate human trafficking stings, one in February, one in late June. It went on to say that not only did MPR fail to cover the stings, but according to an MPR website search, it hadn’t written anything about the concerns and connection between Line 3 and human trafficking.

Some readers, including my friend Jami, wrote the MPR newsroom and pressed them to cover the issue. She got a response which requires a small correction to my initial story, but it doesn’t change the broader critique of MPR’s uncritical Line 3 coverage.

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Shuttles to Line 3 resistance camps and other news

In this blog:

  • Shuttle service being created for front-line water protector camps
  • Minneapolis police spokesperson works on the Northern Lights Task Force protecting Line 3; City Council passes ordinance opposing Line 3
  • Treaties aren’t broken, they’re not being honored
  • Hubbard County law enforcement blockades water protector encampment
  • Economics cancel Byhalia Pipeline
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MPR fails to cover Line 3’s connection to human trafficking and recent trafficking stings

What gives?

[Update: MPR did run on-air stories about the Line 3 human trafficking sting. It didn’t post an on-line story until the day after this blog ran. I had emailed MPR media relations to ask if I had missed any coverage of the sting on MPR. MPR media relations didn’t respond, apparently not checking on-air coverage. I friend emailed the news department to complain about the lack of coverage on this issue and got an email from the Deputy Managing Editor informing her of the on-air stories. A separate updated post will run soon.]

Four workers on the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline have been arrested in two separate human trafficking stings, one in February, one in June. Line 3 workers represent at least 30 percent of all arrests in the two incidents.

MPR didn’t cover either sting. In fact, MPR hasn’t written anything about the concerns and connection between Line 3 and human trafficking, according to a website search. Asked about the lack of coverage, MPR’s media relations department ducked the question.

MPR supporters and listeners need to contact the newsroom and tell it to cover this important issue. Details below.

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Enbridge Line 3 stands in a long line of Minnesota’s treaty violations

This day in history, Congress creates the ‘White Earth Roll Commission’

The White Earth Nation (Gaa-waabaabiganikaag) is invoking its treaty rights to stop the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline from being built. To date, it’s had no success. For White Earth and other Ojibwe bands and nations, it’s the latest in a long string of treaty abuses.

Let’s look at one other example. On this day in history, June 30, 1913, Congress created the White Earth Roll Commission to determine which White Earth Band members were “full blooded” and which were “mixed blood.” This was not a distinction Native communities made. Congress created these designations so businesses could “legally” steal White Earth’s valuable pine lands.

On one hand, it’s a typical story about people with money and power abusing the system to enrich themselves. On the other hand, it’s a little known story about how the United States decided, in its hubris, that it could dictate who is an “Indian” and who is a “mixed blood.”

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Two more Line 3 workers arrested in sex trafficking sting

The state lacks transparency on the extent of the problem

A sex trafficking sting in northern Minnesota resulted in six arrests, including two men who were working on the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline, the Bemidji Pioneer reported. They have been fired.

Last February, a similar sex trafficking sting resulted in seven arrests, and again at least two of them worked on Line 3.

In both stings, law enforcement set up a phony sex advertising website and arrested men who arrived to arranged meeting, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) said.

Out of the two stings, Line 3 workers represent 30 percent of those arrested. It’s a small sample but it seems like a high number.

The state of Minnesota has failed to provide needed transparency and accountability for Line 3-related sex trafficking. The very structure is flawed. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) required and approved Enbridge’s Human Trafficking Prevention Plan. But the plan has no teeth and no one is responsible for follow up.

What’s the point of requiring a plan if no one is going to enforce it?

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