Mother Earth: ‘Is there a doctor in the house?’

MPCA not living up to its mission to ‘protect and improve’ the environment

I’ve been thinking recently about comparisons between the medical and environmental protection professions.

The medical profession has gone through a significant patient care evolution in my lifetime. It used to be patients just did what the doctor said. If you had rheumatoid arthritis, you took the drugs the doctor told you to take, period. Today, there’s online medical resources and on-line support groups that help people understand their illnesses. People can crowdsource alternative treatments. Then can ask their doctors for more information or a different approach. It’s been a gradual transition, but the medical community is adapting.

Environmental protection professionals — those working for government regulators charged with protecting and healing Mother Earth — haven’t made a similar transition. They still seem to see themselves as the “experts.” Yet more and more ordinary people are getting knowledgeable about very technical environmental issues, such as crude oil pipeline construction and climate damage. They have become patient advocates for the planet. Yet regulatory agencies don’t seem to want to listen to or collaborate with the public who care deeply about these issues.

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Gov. Walz administration fails again at ‘meaningful consultation’ with tribal nations

Enbridge new Line 3’s dewatering plan raises hard questions

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has approved a permit allowing Enbridge to increase its Line 3 trench dewatering by nearly ten fold, up to 5 billion gallons.

The Minnesota Chippewa Tribe has written Gov. Tim Walz requesting he tell the DNR to rescind the permit, “until such time as the Department consults with the White Earth Reservation and all other impacted tribes” as promised in Walz’s 2019 executive order.

“Time of of the essence,” wrote Catherine J. Chavers, President of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe.

Line 3’s new dewatering permit raises many questions:

  • Why didn’t it trigger Gov. Tim Walz’s executive order requiring meaningful consultation with Native Nations?
  • Why is Enbridge requesting such a big increase in dewatering so late in construction?
  • Why wasn’t there more public engagement in the process?
  • What are the potential environmental harms from increased dewatering?
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