Hundreds Opposed to Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline Flood St. Paul Public Hearing

Crowd packs Line 3 public hearing.

I attended a public hearing on the Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 tar sands crude oil pipeline expansion Tuesday, an event that didn’t get a lot of media attention. The proposed pipeline would cross northern Minnesota, violating Anishinaabe treaty rights and threatening the Mississippi headwaters and many wild rice areas. I wrote about it for the Sierra Club North Star Chapter’s blog. Here’s the start:

If the public hearing on the Line 3 tar sands in St. Paul Tuesday is any bellwether, the project should be stopped – just like Sandpiper. The overwhelming majority of attendees spoke against the Line 3 plan, which threatens the Mississippi headwaters region and many clean lakes and rivers in northern Minnesota.

More than 350 people packed a large hall at St. Paul’s Intercontinental Hotel. More than 80 percent of speaker s opposed the project and criticized the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) under discussion. The Minnesota Department of Commerce, the lead agency on the DEIS, had allotted two hours for comment. So many people wanted to speak they added an extra half hour to the event and still didn’t get through the list of people who wanted to speak.

Sierra Club volunteer Jean Ross was one of nearly 50 people who did get the microphone. She asked the Department of Commerce tough questions about why the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) didn’t have a stronger voice in decisions about Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 pipeline expansion. Ross said the DEIS fell short because it did not include a “no-build” option. “Be part of the future, not part of the past,” she said.

For the full post, click here.

A Victory! Federal Judge Rules DAPL Needs More Environmental Review, But Doesn’t Stop Operations … Yet

This just in from the Washington Post: Federal judge orders environmental review of Dakota Access pipeline. It starts out:

A federal judge in Washington on Wednesday ordered the Trump administration to conduct further environmental reviews of the Dakota Access pipeline but stopped short of halting oil-pumping operations pending further hearings beginning June 21. …

While the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers “substantially complied” with federal environmental laws, [U.S. District Judge James E.] Boasberg wrote, “it did not adequately consider the impacts of an oil spill on fishing rights, hunting rights, or environmental justice, or the degree to which the pipeline’s effects are likely to be highly controversial.”

It is unclear whether Energy Transfer Partners will have to stop operating the pipeline pending further environmental review. That will be decided at a later hearing. The judge set a hearing for Wednesday to discuss next steps.

The Seattle Times wrote a more upbeat story: Federal judge rejects Dakota Access Pipeline permits, calls for do-over:

In a dramatic turnaround, a federal judge has ruled that permits to complete the Dakota Access Pipeline must be reconsidered, and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe has demanded the flow of oil through the pipeline be stopped.

Mni ki Wakan: Indigenous Peoples’ Decade of Water Summit

Brothers Wakinyan and Thorne LaPointe (Lakota) and their family are moving forward with plans to hold the first Mni Ki Wakan: Indigenous Peoples’ Decade of Water Summit later this summer. It will be an indigenous-oriented, youth-led, two-day conference, Aug. 1-2. Allies are invited.

More details coming soon on how to register and the conference itself, but right now there is a pre-Summit fundraiser being held Saturday, June 24, 6-9 p.m. at First Universalist Church, 3400 Dupont Ave. S., Minneapolis. The fundraiser will include indigenous foods (provided by the Sioux Chef), indigenous rights defenders, artists, presentations, and a short documentary related to the upcoming Summit.

Your presence and donations will support the inauguration of this Summit, which will become an annual event. Here is the Facebook Page for the fundraiser. Here is some additional background on the history behind Mni Ki Wakan: Indigenous Peoples’ Decade of Water Summit. (Click on the Facebook page for more.)

The Mni Ki Wakan: Indigenous Peoples’ Decade Water Summit emerged from humble beginnings more than a decade ago. With minimal or no funding support, a local youth program resolved to embark upon multi-day canoe expeditions. Paddling the ancient water ways of Dakota ancestors, our indigenous youth paddled every twist and turn of the original maps known to our predecessors since time immemorial. Armed with a map that portrayed the numerous small and large water ways and water bodies of the Great Lakes region, youth set out to explore, discover, experience, and recover the healthy perspectives and wise insights of our indigenous predecessors.

Amidst these enchanting explorations emerged a flagship event known as the Mde Maka Ska Canoe Nations Gathering. Today, it still engages and contributes to youth and community enrichment upon the surface of the largest lake in Minnesota’s largest city, Minneapolis.

Students Lead Effort to Dump “Ramsey” as School Name, Replace it with “Justice Page”

Alan Page
Alexander Ramsey

Students at Ramsey School Middle School in Southwest Minneapolis are asking the Minneapolis School Board to change the school name to Justice Page Middle School to honor Minnesota Vikings football great and retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page.

The School Board meets tonight to vote on the measure.

Students didn’t feel it was right to continue to honor Ramsey. Ramsey was one of the architects of the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux (1851) which forced the Dakota to give up their land, then cheated them out of their promised money to the benefit of fur traders. The U.S. government’s failure to live up the terms of the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux led to Dakota starvation and sparked the Dakota-U.S. War of 1862. Following the war, Ramsey pushed to exile all Dakota people from the state and offered bounties for Dakota scalps.

Students have a website called: RENAME Alexander Ramsey Middle School Information Site. It includes a statement of support from Gov. Mark Dayton:

​“I support the students, staff, and community at Alexander Ramsey Middle School, who are leading an important discussion on the name of their school. Governor Ramsey’s encouragement of violence against innocent people is appalling, and I repudiate it fully. That violent language and behavior may have been commonplace 150 years ago in Minnesota, but it is not acceptable or allowable today.

Action Alert: Public Meeting Tuesday to Stop Tar Sands Pipeline; Mayan Weavers Seek Stop to Cultural Appropriation

New Honor the Earth map on Enbridge Line 3.

Please attend a public hearing tomorrow, Tuesday, June 13, to speak against a proposed tar sands pipeline in northern Minnesota that threatens our environment and puts a disproportionate burden on the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) people.

The Minnesota Department of Commerce recently released a draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) on Enbridge Line 3 and is holding hearings to get public comments. The only metro area hearing is Tuesday, 6-9 p.m. at Intercontinental Hotel Saint Paul, 11 E. Kellogg Boulevard. The Department of Commerce will rewrite the DEIS based on public comment.

Enbridge has an existing Line 3 tar sands pipeline which is old and failing. It proposes to abandon it in the ground and install a larger pipeline along a new route. The new route crosses the Mississippi headwaters region and threatens 17 prime wild rice lakes.

The final EIS will play a significant role in the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s decision whether or not to approve the pipeline. Please come and make your voice heard!

Our previous blog, “Environmental Justice” Analysis of Proposed Crude Oil Pipeline is Flawed, Lacks Native Voices, pulls out a few key quotes from the draft EIS section on Environmental Justice:

Disproportionate and adverse impacts would occur to American Indian populations in the vicinity of the proposed [Line 3] Project.

Continue reading

Surveillance-Industrial Complex Unmasked in Leaked DAPL Documents

To the water protectors who tried to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), the fact that law enforcement and security firms coordinated efforts to undermine the camps is old news. For those less familiar, the news site The Intercept is providing new details on the behind-the-scenes surveillance and public relations operations by the government and private security.

The Intercept received leaked documents from a contractor who worked with TigerSwan, a private security firm hired by Energy Transfer Partners to coordinate DAPL security. The Intercept just published its second story in a three-part series.

TigerSwan is largely made up of special operations military veterans, (which tells you a lot about the approach Energy Transfer Partners wanted to take in the conflict). TigerSwan “was formed during the war in Iraq and incorporated its counterinsurgency tactics into its effort to suppress an indigenous-led movement centered around protection of water,” The Interept story said.

The story raises serious questions about law enforcement’s impartiality and the “Surveillance-Industrial Complex.” Continue reading

Sen. Klobuchar Weighs In on “Scaffold”; Trump Budget Hurts Indian County

A crowd gathered for a Dakota healing ceremony to deconstruct Scaffold June 2.

The Walker Sculpture Garden reopened on Saturday, an event delayed by protests over the controversial new work Scaffold which ultimately was removed. U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar spoke at the Grand Reopening and talked about Scaffold, according to a Star Tribune story.

A commentary on capital punishment, Scaffold’s prominent feature replicated the giant 1862 gallows used to hang 38 Dakota men all at once, following the Dakota-U.S. War. Neither the artist nor the Walker thought to engage the Dakota community around the work, one of the worst moments in their nation’s history and the largest mass execution in U.S. history. Institution and artist have apologized and had the sculpture removed, never to be rebuilt.

The Star Tribune reported Klobuchar’s words:

“Today is about a celebration of our modern garden in the present,” U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said, standing with Olga Viso, the art center’s executive director, and others. “But it is also about history. As we learned so painfully in the last few weeks, it is about how, in the present, we remember and respect the past.”

Klobuchar told the crowd that her husband, John Bessler, grew up in Mankato, a few blocks from where the 1862 mass hanging took place, and later wrote a book about the executions: “Legacy of Violence: Lynch Mobs and Executions In Minnesota.” Not everyone knew about “this heart-wrenching story,” she said. But because of recent protests, meetings and the sculpture’s removal, “many more now do.”

The Walker’s mistake, Klobuchar continued, “jarred us into remembering that history has a way of repeating itself if not respected and remembered.”

Comment: The Star Tribune story also said: “The reopening had been pushed back a week after American Indian leaders protested the inclusion of ‘Scaffold’ …” That’s true, but incomplete. There were many non-Native people who found the sculpture inappropriate, too. That helped pressure the Walker to act. It is important to remember this is not just an “American Indian” issue.

Trump Budget Hurts Indian Country

Indian Country Today ran a June 9 story titled: Will President Trump Eliminate the BIA? The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) funding has been on the decline in recent years and Trump’s plan continues that trend, the story said. The president’s plan allocates $2.5 billion for Indian affairs—a $370 million reduction for the BIA and Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) alone. Yet there are more federally recognized tribes (567) than ever  before, all with divergent needs, it said.

In addition, it noted:

On March 13, Trump signed an executive order entitled “A Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch,” and he has since directed the Office of Management and Budget “to propose a plan to reorganize governmental functions and eliminate unnecessary agencies…components of agencies, and agency programs.”

Indian Country doesn’t know yet how the Department of the Interior might try to “reorganize” the BIA, but it is worried and watching.