Congress Needs to Investigate Corporate Influence on Law Enforcement’s DAPL Response

An Open Letter to Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Sen. Al Franken, and Rep. Keith Ellison:

Regardless of your view on the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), I hope we all can agree that the standoff and violence that occurred near Standing Rock should never have happened. We must learn from this tragic event.

In that regard, I ask you to investigate the actions of the National Sheriffs’ Association and  its role in doing opposition research against water protectors and its ties and coordination with TigerSwan, the private security firm hired by Energy Transfer Partners to protect DAPL. This should include a review of the rationale and appropriateness of the law enforcement tactics used.

Screen capture of 2016 video showing the heavily militarized response to water protectors.

This is a national issue. Law enforcement  from several states — including Minnesota — were deployed to Morton County, North Dakota through mutual assistance agreements. What are the lessons these law enforcement agents will take back to their home communities?

This should be of particular to concern to those of us in Minnesota. Canadian company Enbridge Line 3 has proposed expanding a tar sands crude pipeline through the state, called Line 3. It would run from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, and includes 337 miles of pipeline through Minnesota. It would cross the Mississippi River, twice, and cross many wild rice lakes. This project most likely will provoke a similar resistance movement as happened in North Dakota. (See MPR story: Minn. oil pipeline fight stokes threats, fears of Standing Rock.)

How will we respond if and when that happens?

We need a thorough review of law enforcement’s response at Standing Rock so that we don’t repeat the mistakes that were made.

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Reflections on the Sacred and Recipes from the Sioux Chef

I have been reflecting on an article I read recently in the Washington Post headlined: Catholic nuns in Pa. build a chapel to block the path of a gas pipeline planned for their property.

It’s a story about Sister Linda Fisher, 74, and her fellow nuns who are trying to stop a natural gas pipeline from crossing their rural Pennsylvania property.

“This just goes totally against everything we believe in — we believe in sustenance of all creation,” she said.

Their solution? Dedicate an outdoor chapel on the pipeline right of way. Continue reading

Minnesota Capitol Art Update: Unfinished Business For the Next Set of Leaders

This is where the painting of the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux used to hang in the Minnesota Governor’s Reception Room.

Two offensive paintings that once hung in the Minnesota Governor’s Reception Room have been taken down, leaving bare walls.

The painting of the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux used to hang over the fireplace. It was the prominent backdrop to any major media event held in this room.

This is where the painting of Father Hennepin “Discovering” the Falls of St. Anthony used to hang.

At the far end of the Reception Room hung a painting showing Father Hennepin “discovering” the Falls at St. Anthony. It, too, was taken down and moved.

The Art Subcommittee charged with making recommendations about Capitol art yielded to pressure to remove these two problematic paintings from such a prominent space. Sadly, it couldn’t bring itself to move them out of the Capitol altogether into a museum where they belong.

Photo of Cass Gilbert Library space (taken before the problematic paintings from the Governor’s Reception Room paintings were rehung there.)

Both of these works have been moved to a space called the “Cass Gilbert Library,” named for the Capitol’s architect. This is a low traffic area on the Capitol’s third floor, on the far end of the east wing.

The Art Subcommittee recommended keeping the other four large paintings in the Governor’s Reception Room in place; all four are Civil War battle scenes

The Battle of Nashville painting in the Governor’s Reception Room. The new art has to somehow complement this and other Civil War paintings.

involving Minnesota regiments. That decisoin puts the Minnesota Historical Society (MHS) in something of an aesthetic  jam.

MHS has to find new art for those two blank walls. They have to be right size, and they have to fit artistically. Further — we hope — they represent something that happened in the state after the 19th Century.

It will be a challenge.

It appears that these spaces will remain empty for some time, according to an email statement from Jessica Kohen, public relations manager for the Minnesota Historical Society.

We have not made any decisions about new art for the Governor’s Reception Room. Our Executive Council (governing board) is working with MNHS staff to put together a plan for this work. This work will take some time.

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Keystone XL Developer Waffling on Project, and other Weekend Reading

A little weekend reading, starting with good news from The Hill, which ran a story on Friday headlined: Developer might not build Keystone XL pipeline. Here’s the top, click the link for the rest.

The company that obtained a permit to build the controversial Keystone XL oil pipeline might decide not to build it.

A TransCanada Corp. executive told investors Friday that it is still assessing interest in Keystone among the oil companies that would pay to use the Canada-to-Texas line, as well as seeking remaining regulatory approvals, and it will likely decide in November or December whether to build.

Minnesota State Rep Mary Kunesh-Podein (DFL) wrote the following piece about Enbridge Line 3 for the online publication Vice Impact: There’s Another Proposed Pipeline That Blatantly Ignores Native Rights. She writes:

This project has special significance to me. As a state legislator, I promised to protect the environment. My family has a rich history in Standing Rock where I can trace my ancestry back for generations to Skuyapi and Lame Deer, Hunkpapa Lakota Sioux. Pipeline decisions matter to me from a policy standpoint, but more importantly, they are close to my heart. (Click on the link above for the full essay.)

Thirteen youth opposed to Enbridge Line 3 are official intervenors in the case before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission, which is charged with approving or denying the project. The Star Tribune ran an opinion piece by Sophia Manolis, one of the intervenors. It was headlined: Why 13 young Minnesotans launched a legal fight against a pipeline:.

The Line 3 pipeline would have many harmful effects. High on the list: It would contribute to climate change by expanding fossil-fuel infrastructure and dependency. Therefore, 12 other young people and I petitioned to intervene together in these legal proceedings, because the advancement of climate change would directly, personally and adversely affect our future health, opportunities, livelihoods and well-being. (Click on the link above for the full essay.)


In Show of Hubris, Enbridge Starts Tar Sands Pipeline Work Well in Advance of Minnesota Approvals

Pipelines stored in northwestern Minnesota, near White Earth.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) won’t vote until next spring on whether to allow an expanded tar sands crude oil pipeline to cut through the heart of northern Minnesota, threatening our lakes and rivers. But that hasn’t stopped Enbridge from starting pipeline construction in both Canada and Wisconsin, apparently assuming Minnesota approvals are a done deal.

Also, the movement and storage of pipelines through northern Minnesota has those opposed to Enbridge Line 3 very nervous.

Enbridge is proposing a 1,097-mile tar sands crude oil pipeline, starting in Alberta, crossing the length of northern Minnesota, and ending up in Superior, Wisc. The company wants to leave the old and failing Line 3 pipeline in the ground and install a new and larger pipeline. The plan includes a partial reroute of the line. The reroute  crosses the Mississippi River, twice, and also threatens wild rice areas

The Line 3 expansion is nowhere near approval in Minnesota, yet earlier this week, Wisconsin Public Radio reported that Enbridge is already working on replacing a 12-mile section in Wisconsin — investing $100 million. According to the story:

Elizabeth Ward with the John Muir Chapter of the Sierra Club in Wisconsin said she’s surprised construction is already underway in Wisconsin “given that the Minnesota process is still underway and they’re not even really close to getting their permits on the Minnesota side.”

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FYI Water Protectors: Governor Dayton is Holding Water Quality Town Hall Meetings

Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Gov. Tina Smith have organized ten town hall meetings around the state giving Minnesotans an opportunity to discuss the water quality challenges, learn from experts, and engage with policymakers. The goal is to spur collaboration and action to improve Minnesota’s water quality 25 percent by 2025.

This is another opportunity for those opposed to the expanded tar sands pipeline through northern Minnesota (Enbridge Line 3) to engage with state leaders and make your voices heard. A major tar sands pipeline spill would set water quality back significantly. Enbridge, a Canadian oil transportation company, has proposed abandoning an existing and failing pipeline (Line 3) and installing a new and larger pipeline, including a partial reroute. The proposed route would cut right through the Mississippi headwaters region as well as prime wild ricing areas. (For more background, click here.)

Here are the cities and dates for the Town Hall meetings.

More news and events follow.

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