More than half of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA’s) Environmental Justice Advisory Group resigned today over the agency’s decision to approve a key permit for the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline. Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan is distancing herself from Gov. Tim Walz’s support for the project.
The state’s decision to approve Line 3 has polluted the legacy of both Gov. Walz and the MPCA, and shines a spotlight on their hypocrisy.
The Minnesota State Senate booted Steve Kelley as the Commissioner of Commerce because his department filed a legal challenge to the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline. In so doing, the Senate abused its role to “advise and consent” on top state administration appointments.
Kelley didn’t violate any ethics rules. He didn’t break the law. The Senate didn’t argue he wasn’t qualified. The Senate failed to make an argument against his appointment other than a policy disagreement.
If a policy dispute was sufficient to reject a commissioner’s appointment, the Senate could justify rejecting any and all appointees.
Also worrisome, the Senate seems to be sending a thinly veiled threat to Laura Bishop, Commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA). The MPCA has yet to act on Enbrdige’s request for Line 3’s water crossing permit. The Senate has yet to confirm Bishop’s appointment, so there’s an implied threat that she could be next if she blocks the permit.