Indigenous water protectors are seeking an emergency Temporary Restraining Order against the Hubbard County Sheriff. It’s in response to a months-long campaign by the Sheriff’s Office of unlawful harassment, arrests, and efforts to block property access, they say.
This law enforcement response didn’t come out of nowhere, it’s been in the works for years. Enbridge and law enforcement have worked hand-in-hand to plan their response to Line 3 resistance. Enbridge is indirectly funding law enforcement’s Line 3 responses, buying law enforcement good will.
Native Nations and environmental groups opposed to the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline announced Wednesday they would appeal to the Minnesota Supreme Court to overturn the pipeline’s Certificate of Need and Route Permit.
One notable advocate that had sued to stop Line 3 dropped out this time: The Minnesota Department of Commerce. Commerce represented the public interest before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). It has consistently argued that Enbridge failed to prove that future oil demand justified building the new and larger Line 3.
Those continuing litigation to overturn the PUC’s Line 3 permits are: The White Earth Band of Ojibwe, the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, the Sierra Club, Honor the Earth, Friends of the Headwaters, and Youth Climate Interveners.
Gov. Tim Walz appears to have caved to political pressure. His administration’s decision to drop the appeal emphasizes what’s been clear for a while: In spite of promises, Walz is not taking climate damage or treaty rights seriously.
In related news, top elected leaders from the White Earth Nation came to the Capitol today to press the Walz administration for nation-to-nation consultation around Line 3.
“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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
[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.