As Walz administration continues to fail on Line 3, Line 3 continues bringing trauma to Indian Country

T-shirts spelled out: “We are all treaty people”

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.

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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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Treaty People Gathering was about more than resistance and arrests, but a teaching moment

Treaties are a two-way street with rights and responsibilities for both parties. On Line 3, Minnesota is failing its duty.

Photo: Ron Turney, EIN

The Treaty People Gathering, June 5-8, garnered extensive media coverage, notably the June 7 actions taken to stop construction of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline through northern Minnesota.

The media covered the political pressure placed on President Joe Biden to live up to his campaign promises to address climate change and respect Tribal sovereignty. It covered water protectors chaining themselves to Enbridge equipment and the subsequent arrests of approximately 200 people. It covered speeches by important movement leaders and celebrities such as Winona LaDuke, Tara Houska and Jane Fonda.

Most stories made a passing reference to treaty rights, but failed to give the topice much ink. It’s not something that fits easily into a two-paragraph summary or a 30-second video clip.

The problem is that many non-Indigenous people erroneously view treaty rights as a gift from the United State government to Indigenous Nations. Treaty rights are a binding contract between two parties, each with their own rights and responsibilities.

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Walz ducks Line 3 and its harms in State of the State address

The destruction is massive and ongoing

Line 3 work at ground level: Construction in Aitkin County near Highway 169 in January.

In tonight’s State of the State speech, Gov. Tim Walz avoided any mention of Enbridge Line 3 and the devastation happening right now in northern Minnesota. This fits with his position since elected; he’s ignoring the damage to the state’s cleanest waters and wetlands, to Indigenous rights, and to the global climate.

He’s pretending he has no power or role to play.

For those bothering to look, Line 3’s destruction at ground level is harrowing. We’ve witnessed the endless piles of cut trees, the burning slash piles, enormous vehicles rumbling over fragile soils, millions of gallons of water pumped from the ground in trench “dewatering” zones, and preparations to bore under the Mississippi River (at two locations).

Seeing Line 3 construction from the air, we also can grasp the enormous scope of the operation, and better understand how – if the project is allowed to continue – it will cause permanent changes to the forests and wetlands that it crosses.

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Ten ways structural racism permeated Enbridge Line 3 decisions, and continues to influence them

Structural racism has played a significant role in Enbridge Line 3’s approval and law enforcement’s responses to water protectors.

Structural racism, as defined by The Aspen Institute Round Table on Societal Change, is:

A system in which public policies, institutional practices, cultural representations, and other norms work in various, often reinforcing ways to perpetuate racial group inequity. It identifies dimensions of our history and culture that have allowed privileges associated with “whiteness” and disadvantages associated with “color” to endure and adapt over time. Structural racism is not something that a few people or institutions choose to practice. Instead it has been a feature of the social, economic and political systems in which we all exist.

Aspen Institute on Societal Change

Here’s a top ten list of structural racism in Line 3 decisions. Got more to add? A critique? Submit them in the comments section, below.

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