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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Line 3: Don’t be distracted from the true danger

Screen grab of Unicorn Riot’s feed showing part of Friday’s protest.

Friday’s bomb scare in Carlton County will be used by some to make water protectors seem dangerous, shifting attention away from real dangers posed by the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline.

Water protectors were demonstrating against Line 3 in Carlton County Friday. As the event was happening, the county received a 9-1-1 call reporting a “suspicious device,” the Sheriff’s Office said. A news story called it “a suspicious package thrown into a pipeline construction area.”

The county’s response was quick and perhaps excessive. It called in the bomb squad. Law enforcement evacuated 40 nearby residences within a half-mile radius of the device. Carlton County Sheriff Kelly Lake called in regional and federal law enforcement. She’s calling for maximum charges and penalties.

There was no bomb. Still, placing a “replica device” that causes fear and panic is a crime.

The incident occurred near Camp Migizi, an Indigenous-led frontline resistance camp, but the protests that day were several miles away from where the incident occurred.

There’s been no information released that ties the incident to Camp Migizi or the protest. There have been no arrests. Yet without evidence, Enbridge and others are blaming water protectors.

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Enbridge Line 3’s COVID Preparedness Plan has no teeth

On Dec. 2, the day after Enbridge started construction of its Line 3 pipeline, the company updated its COVID Preparedness Plan with state regulators.

The plan was part of a compliance filing for Line 3’s Route Permit, approved by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

The plan seemed deficient, lacking transparency and enforcement. Healing Minnesota Stories wrote the PUC to ask why it didn’t require a stronger plan.

PUC Executive Secretary Will Seuffert wrote back: “the Commission did not require Enbridge to file any plans related to COVID-19, and did not approve the COVID-19 prevention plan.”

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This Day in History, Feb. 6, 1850, a broken treaty sets in motion the Sandy Lake Atrocity

Minnesota leaders still disregarding treaties today

The Red Lake and White Earth nations are suing in the Minnesota Court of Appeals to stop the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline, arguing it violates their long-standing treaties with the U.S. government. The treaties of 1854 and 1855 guaranteed them the right to hunt, fish, and gather in lands they ceded, they say. Line 3 construction and future oil spills threaten those rights.

The state of Minnesota has turned a blind eye, approving Line 3 permits and allowing Enbridge to begin construction before courts resolve the treaty rights dispute. The failure goes all way up the ladder to Gov. Tim Walz.

It should come as no surprise. Minnesota was born of broken treaties.

On this day in history, Feb. 6, 1850, President Zachery Taylor signed an executive order that broke several treaties with the Chippewa. Taylor took that action at the behest of Minnesota’s Territorial Gov. Alexander Ramsey and other Minnesota leaders.

This executive order — and a corrupt scheme by Ramsey to advance his own financial and political fortunes — would lead to the deaths of 400 Chippewa people.

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Health Commissioner Malcolm: State to ‘closely monitor’ Line 3 path for COVID-19 outbreaks, and ‘adjust, as appropriate’

Give credit to Minnesota Health Commissioner Jan Malcolm for responding to a question regarding the state’s decision to approve construction of Line 3 at the same time the state expects a coronavirus surge.

Healing Minnesota Stories has sent inquiries to a number of health and public health officials asking about the wisdom of allowing Line 3 work to proceed considering the health risks. Malcolm is the first to respond. We will post other responses if and when we get them.

On its face, the decision to allow Line 3 construction now seems illogical. The state just put the brakes on various forms of social engagement to slow the pandemic, yet it seems to have a different standard for Line 3.

The argument seems to be that since the state is allowing other construction projects to proceed during the pandemic that it needs to allow Enbridge Line 3 to proceed, too. That fails to consider some of Line 3’s unique features. The project’s scale is well beyond anything else in the state. It will attract several thousands workers to northern Minnesota. (A video posted on Facebook of a Bemidji Super 8 parking lot reports cars from Texas, Louisiana, California, and Oklahoma.)

Further, the Minnesota Department of Commerce is currently in the Minnesota Court of Appeals arguing to revoke Line 3’s key permits. According to Commerce, Enbridge failed to prove Line 3 is needed. So what’s the rush to build an unnecessary pipeline?

Here is Commissioner Malcolm’s response to Healing Minnesota Stories question, in full.

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