What are the Risks of a Line 3 Tar Sands Crude Oil Spill? Government Analysis Fails to Give Clear Answers

Last in a series of critiques of the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s final environmental impact statement (EIS) on Enbridge Line 3, a proposal to expand and reroute a tar sands crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota. Commerce is taking public comments on the adequacy of the EIS until 4:30 p.m. Oct. 2. To learn how to submit comments, click here.

People packed the hall in Bemidji to comment on the draft EIS.

For the last installment, let’s look at how the environmental impact statement (EIS) discusses the risks of a major Line 3 pipeline rupture and what impact it would have on recreation areas, clean waters, wild rice areas and Minnesota tribes. That’s covered in Chapter 10 of the EIS where Commerce analyzes spills.

Chapter 10 is highly technical and seems intentionally opaque, failing to provide readers with any kind of a meaningful summary. It does a very poor job of communicating so people can understand what is at stake and effectively engage in the debate.

This is doubling disturbing since the public hearings on the pipeline’s Certificate of Need and Route Plan already are underway around the state.

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Historical Society Capitol Art Tour a Good Start, Concerns Remain

Joe Horse Capture led a discussion on Capitol Art in the Cass Gilbert Library, on the Capitol’s third floor.

I attended the second of two Capitol Art Tours launched by the Minnesota Historical Society Friday. It was led by Joe Horse Capture, the Society’s Director of Native American Initiatives. A couple of dozen people attended. I learned some new things. I appreciated the dialogue Horsecapture led. I also left with some concerns about the tour — including whether it would continue.

The hour-long discussion focused on two controversial paintings that once hung in the Governor’s Conference Room, one showing Father Hennepin “discovering” the Falls at St. Anthony, the other a painting of the signing of the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux in 1851.

I appreciated Horse Capture’s effort to engage people in a conversation around these paintings and whether the paintings should remain in the Capitol. These paintings are offensive to many, notably Dakota people who are inaccurately and offensively portrayed. When these paintings hung in the Governor’s Conference Room, those who found them offensive had no choice but to look at them if they were doing business in the room. Moving the paintings to a low-traffic area allows people to engage them — or not — as they choose.

Senate mural: “The Discoverers and Civilizers Led to the Source of the Mississippi.”

One problem with the “tour” was that it left out the controversial art that remains in place in the Capitol. For instance, it did not include images or discussion of the Senate Chamber’s mural “The Discoverers and Civilizers Led to the Source of the Mississippi”. This painting shows the forced conversion of a Native man and young Native woman, who are surrounded by a priest with a cross, snarling dogs, and the angels of civilization and discovery. This is an affront to our deeply held belief in Freedom of Religion.

Nor did the tour include the House Chambers, which includes the inscription: “The Trail of the Pioneer Bore the Footprints of Liberty.” For Native people, they had a lot more freedom before the pioneers arrived.

Here are a few other learnings and concerns. Continue reading

Tar Sands Pipeline Opponents Rally, March, and Pack the Hearing; Line 3 Backers Offer Easily Refuted Arguments

Those seeking to stop Line 3 greatly outnumbered its supporters at a Sept. 28 public hearing in downtown St. Paul. Instead of applause, Line 3 opponents waved blue hankies to signal support for speakers.

Efforts to Stop the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline are in the home stretch. Those seeking to stop the pipeline had a great showing Thursday, rallying at the Capitol, marching down Cedar, and packing a public hearing held at the Intercontinental Hotel.

It was a standing room only crowd, with testimony against the pipeline far outweighing supporters. Still, let’s take a minute to address and respond to the pro-pipeline testimony. Here are the main arguments Enbridge and allies put forward, and quick responses:

Argument 1: Job Creation: Enbridge touts that this project will create 4,200 full-time but temporary construction jobs in Minnesota (yet only half of those jobs are expected to be filled by Minnesotans). This project is not supposed to be approved based on the number of jobs it creates. The question is “Do we need this pipeline or not?” and the answer is “no,” according to testimony from the Minnesota Department of Commerce. The United States already is a net exporter of refined petroleum products and our exports are growing. Further, Line 3 job creation is massively expensive if you factor in the environmental and public health costs from tar sands mining and transportation. (More below.)

Argument 2: The Old Line 3 is Falling Apart, a New One Would Be Safer: There is no dispute that the current pipeline is in bad shape. Building a new one is not the safest option. Approving the pipeline would be repeating a mistake. We don’t need this pipeline; if we approve it, in another 30-50 years we will have another old and decrepit pipeline rotting in the ground.

Argument 3: Pipelines are Safer than Rail: On one hand, Enbridge argues if the permits for the new Line 3 are denied, it would keep using the old and failing Line 3. On the other hand, it raises the specter of more crude oil moving by rail and truck. That ignores the safest choice: no pipeline, no rail.

More on all three of these arguments below.

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Native Youth Interrupt Governor’s Water Quality Town Hall; Dayton Promises Private Meeting, But Still Neutral on Line 3

Youth interrupted the Governor’s Town Hall Meeting on Water Quality to speak out against the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline, saying it was a threat to water quality. In the photo, Dayton responds. (The young girls in the front table were not part of the protest.)

Ten or so youth interrupted Governor Mark Dayton’s Water Quality Town Hall meeting in Minneapolis for about 10 minutes Wednesday night to bring attention to indigenous opposition to the proposed tar sands crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota. The pipeline — Enbridge Line 3 — threatens the state’s clean waters and wild rice areas and violates treaty rights that allow Anishinaabe to hunt, fish and gather on lands the pipeline would cross.

The youth who took the stage included some of the Native youth who are part of the Youth Climate Intervenors working to stop Line 3. The group was recognized by the Public Utilities Commission as an official intervenor because of the members’ youth — they would be living with the consequences of this pipeline for most of their lives. They will be allowed to provide testimony as the process moves into a more legal format. Continue reading

Business Lobby Ad Buy Tries to Put Clean Face on Pipeline’s Dirty Tar Sands Crude; It Fails

Perhaps you’ve seen a TV ad supporting the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline expansion project through northern Minnesota. The Consumer Energy Alliance announced the ad buy Sept. 17.

Here’s what you need to know about the Consumer Energy Alliance. It’s not about consumers the way you and I see ourselves as consumers, individuals making small purchases in a grocery store. The Alliance represents large corporate interests. The players and organizations involved in the Alliance would not have to live with the consequences of a northern Minnesota oil spill. The Alliance does not appear to be concerned about the project’s broader environmental impacts. It is looking at spread sheets, not communities.

A 2016 Consumer Energy Alliance media release lists board members. They were:

  • Wayne Zemke, Alliance Chair, a marketing executive with Caterpillar, Inc.
  • Brett Vassey, Alliance Vice Chair, president and CEO of the Virginia Manufacturers Association
  • Brain Welch, Treasurer, managing director at Wortham Insurance & Risk Management in Houston
  • John Heimlich, vice president and chief economist for Airlines for America
  • Mark Pulliam, solution partner with Sabre Airline Solutions
  • John Eichberger, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Convenience Stores
  • Jennifer Diggins, Director of Public Affairs at Nucor (with the tagline: “North America’s largest recycler”)

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Commerce Offers Rushed and Incomplete Responses to Draft EIS Criticisms

Fifth in a series of critiques of the Minnesota Department of Commerce’s final environmental impact statement (EIS) on Enbridge Line 3, a proposal to expand and reroute a tar sands crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota. Commerce is taking public comments on the adequacy of the EIS until 4:30 p.m. Oct. 2. To learn how to submit comments, click here.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce got swamped with comments to its draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). Appendix T of the Final EIS chronicles the hundreds of pages of comments received and the hundreds of pages of the Department’s responses.

The final EIS is inadequate because some of the department’s responses do not adequately address the questions and criticisms raised by the public and government officials. Let’s look at a few examples.

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New Doctrine of Discovery Resources

A couple of Doctrine of Discovery resources came to our inbox, thought I would share them.

The Mennonite Central Committee recently posted a new page on its website titled: Dismantling the Doctrine of Discovery education resources. It has a streaming movie (43 minutes) titled: Doctrine of Discovery: In the Name of Christ. The movie has three parts: History of the Doctrine of Discovery and its basis in Christian theology and scripture; Living the Doctrine of Discovery (starting at 20:21), and Undoing the Doctrine of Discovery (starting at 29:50). It includes both the United States and international implications of the Doctrine of Discovery.

A group called the Conscious Elders Network put together a list of documents and videos on the Doctrine of Discovery. The site includes fact sheets and short videos (5-8 minutes) by Mark Charles, Orin Lyons and Winona LaDuke.