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 Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA’s) commitment to environmental and racial justice is being tested and it’s not doing that great. It gets an incomplete at best.
At issue is the MPCA’s environmental review of Enbridge’s plans to build a tar sands crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota. To proceed, Enbridge needs the MPCA to approve a water crossing (Section 401) certificate. The proposed Line 3 crosses a lot of water — more than 200 streams and other water bodies and 79 miles of wetlands.
Native Nations have offered strong opposition to Line 3 for violating treaty rights and its threats to clean water and wild rice. Both the pipeline’s construction and future spills would endanger northern Minnesota’s environment.
So what were the MPCA’s goals for engaging Tribal communities in this important decision, and how well did it meet them?
Minnesota’s top political leaders — Gov. Tim Walz, Attorney General Keith Ellison, and U.S. senators Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith — have failed to take a stand and show leadership opposing the proposed Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline, a dangerous and unnecessary project.
Enbridge Line 3 could provide order’s first significant test
Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan met with leaders of Minnesota’s Native nations Monday in Morton, Minn. and held a ceremonial signing of an Executive Order that recognizes and supports “the unique status of the Minnesota Tribal Nations and their right to existence, self-govern, and possess self-determination.”
The order officially went into effect on April 5. According to a media release from the Governor’s office issued at that time, “the order applies to all state agencies and was made in consultation with both agencies and tribal governments as it was written.”
“This order ensures the State of Minnesota and the eleven tribes engage in true government-to-government relationships built on respect, understanding, and sovereignty,” said Governor Walz. “We are committed to meaningful consultation with the tribal communities in our state.” (Emphasis in original.)
Rev. Jim Bear Jacobs, founder of Healing Minnesota Stories, joined roughly 75 other faith and indigenous leaders who gathered in the Governor’s Conference Room today to pray, sing, hold an Anihsinaabe water ceremony, and make a clear demand that Gov. Tim Walz stop the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline — an unnecessary and dangerous project that violates treaty rights.
“Today, my message to Gov. Walz is that you cannot claim to be an ally to indigenous people when you knowingly introduce toxins into the food and water systems. And that is exactly what Enbridge Line 3 will do,” said Jacobs, who is a member of the Mohican Nation. “… I stand with all of you in hope that Gov. Walz will take heroic action and sign an executive order halting Line 3 where it stands,”
At a minimum, Jacobs said Walz needs to support a Minnesota Department of Commerce lawsuit to stop Line 3, an action begun by former Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration. The suit argues Enbridge failed to prove the new and expanded Line 3 was needed. The Walz administration is now reevaluating the lawsuit and the Governor is expected to announce early next week which side he will take.