Line 3 updates: More arrests and protests, and the need to support front-line, Indigenous-led resistance

In this blog:

  • 14 more arrests in Line 3 resistance, total now 40
  • Peaceful protest Tuesday, Jan. 5, in Superior, Wisc.
  • More ways to support Line 3 front line resistance
  • Upcoming Line 3 trainings: Watch the Line, Engaged Buddhism, TakeAction MN
  • After nearly a century, University of Minnesota plans to return Indian artifacts
  • Standing Rock devastated by COVID-19
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Line 3 opposition, law enforcement response, ramp up

Et tu, DNR? Conservation officers now part of the state’s protest push back

Seventeen water protectors were arrested today in Aitkin County and were being held in jail overnight.

They were arrested at the site where Enbridge plans to bore under the Mississippi River for its new and larger Line 3 tars sands pipeline. Also, a nearby 10-day tree sit ended today when police brought in a crane.

Tree sitter before the police brought in a crane.
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Governor envy

Michigan’s Whitmer nixes crude oil pipeline under the Great Lakes while Minnesota’s Walz administration greenlights crude oil pipeline that threatens state lakes and streams

It’s a tale of two states, Michigan and Minnesota.

In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced today that the state was revoking and terminating Enbridge’s easement to operate crude oil pipelines in the Straits of Mackinac.

They cited Enbridge’s bad-faith efforts to protect the environment and Enbridge Line 5’s threat to the Great Lakes.

In Minnesota, Gov. Tim Walz, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Minnesota DNR announced this week they would allow Enbridge to build a crude oil pipeline trenching through 355 miles of northern Minnesota, threatening climate, clean waters and treaty rights.

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The pipeline company that cried ‘Wolf!’

Honor the Earth asks the PUC to investigate Enbridge’s false alarm

Once upon a time, there was a pipeline company from Way Up North that said it couldn’t ship all the oil it wanted. It issued a proclamation calling it a Very Big Problem.

Its pipeline needed to run through the Lands Down South. The pipeline company requested a right of passage from local leaders. It told these leaders that its current pipeline was old and ailing and a new one was desperately needed.

The townspeople in the Lands Down South had no use for this new pipeline. They said they did not want it. They said they did not need it. Yet the rulers of the land were befogged by a magic spell and ran to aid the pipeline company.

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Thank you Governor Walz! State refiles Line 3 pipeline appeal

Groups opposed to the Line 3 tar sands pipeline filed appeals today to overturn Enbridge Line 3’s permits at the Minnesota Court of Appeals .

Gov. Tim Walz

In terrific news for those opposing the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline, the Minnesota Department of Commerce late today announced it would refile its appeal to stop the project. (Thanks to MPR’s Dan Kraker for the tweet.) The case now heads to the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

The Walz administration faced a Wednesday deadline to file its appeal. The Governor hadn’t indicated which way he was leaning. The pressure was on.

Earlier today, Indigenous Nations and environmental groups filed a joint appeal to reject Line 3’s permits. Group representatives called on Walz to renew the state’s appeal at a press conference outside the Minnesota Court of Appeals.

“Yet again, the PUC has refused to acknowledge the reality that Line 3 would pose untenable costs to Minnesota, all to deliver tar sands oil we don’t need,” Sierra Club North Star Chapter Director Margaret Levin said in a media release. “Their bad decision — ignoring state’s agencies’ recommendations, and based on a faulty process — would be devastating for Minnesota’s clean water and communities. The Court must reject the PUC’s decision once and for all.”

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Legislative Auditor Report: PUC has done “poor job” in public engagement

Winona LaDuke: ‘PUC has a systemic blind spot in dealing with Native tribes’

Sierra Club: ‘A bad process leads to bad outcomes’

PUC: ‘Improved public engagement is a priority’

The Minnesota Office of Legislative Auditor released a report today critical of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and its public engagement process. The PUC has done a “poor job” in helping the public engage in its complex review process, it said. Specifically, the PUC was “not adequately prepared” for engaging the public during the controversial Enbridge Line 3 pipeline hearings.

The report makes a number of recommendations, such as directing PUC leadership “to provide more oversight of the agency’s public participation processes” and to “better prepare for cases with significant public interest.” (Summary here.)

The 98-page report disappoints in one aspect: It fails to clearly call out that, at least in the case of the Line 3 hearings, the PUC’s public engagement failures focused on Line 3 opponents. The report doesn’t explicitly name staff bias as a problem that needs addressing, and it does.

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News and Events: Land O’ Lakes removes Indian mascot from butter logo; Tribes petition MPCA for more thorough Line 3 review, and more

In this blog:

  • Land O’ Lakes removes Indian mascot from butter logo
  • Tribes, environmental groups, petition MPCA for more thorough Line 3 review
  • HTE: Enbridge employees deemed ‘essential workers,’ start pre-construction work, risk spreading COVID-19
  • On-line film screening and discussion: Color Lines: Diversity in Itasca
  • Facebook Series: Building Communities of Care During COVID-19, led by Indigenous Environmental Network and Indigenous Climate Action

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For a crude oil pipeline carrying 760,000 barrels a day, a “pinhole leak” is bigger than it sounds

Enbridge Line 3 could spill up to 7,600 barrels a day without triggering leak sensors

One of the difficulties writing about the proposed Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline is that one gets buried by thousands of pages of documents, much more than most people have the time to read. There’s testimony, briefing papers, the environmental impact statement, administrative law judge analysis, permit applications, permit decisions, legal appeals … you get the picture.

There are many important stories hidden in these documents. I haven’t scratched the surface. I depend on people who have done the deep dive, people like Nicolette Slagle, Honor the Earth’s research director. She put me onto the “pinhole leak” story. It sounds small enough until you get into the details.

Honor the Earth and its consultant CJE did important work pointing out flaws in Enbridge’s pinhole leak analysis. Stunningly, state regulators failed to acknowledge any of them in Line 3’s final environmental impact statement.

This story is too late to affect change in the Line 3 environmental impact statemenet. But it raises larger questions about state regulators’ ability to effectively review future proposals of similar harmful projects.

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Honor the Earth denounces MN Supreme Court action for failing to protect indigenous rights

The Minnesota Supreme Court today declined to review a case that could have required the state to complete a traditional cultural property survey before it could permit large construction projects such as the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline.

“We are profoundly disappointed that the Minnesota Supreme Court felt more interested in siding with the rights of a Canadian corporation to proceed with a high-risk project than protecting the rights of the Minnesota Anishinabe and indigenous people and the rights of nature,” Winona LaDuke, Co-founder and Executive Director of Honor the Earth said in a statement. Continue reading