Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan failed miserably to live up to the spirit of their pledge of “meaningful consultation” with Native Nations. Examples include the state’s approval of Enbridge Line 3, MinnTac mine’s ongoing wild-rice-damaging pollution, the proposed Huber Lumber mill, and other environmental issues.
All state agencies are required to have tribal consultation policies on file with the Governor’s Office. Healing Minnesota Stories obtained copies through a Data Practices Act request.
The “meaningful consultation’ agencies provide don’t include any accountability or enforcement measures. Agencies aren’t transparent on how Tribal consultation affects their decisions.
A state law passed last year could strengthen the practice of “meaningful consultation.” Only time will tell.
I was excited when I read the Nov. 13 Star Tribune headline: Minnesota officials work to mend historically fraught relationship with tribes. I was hoping for a thoughtful analysis.
Reading it, I was reminded of what my friend Bob Klanderud called a “wish sandwich”: Two pieces of white bread with nothing in between other than a wish for some peanut butter.
The story lacked peanut butter, I wish it were there.
The story didn’t mention Enbridge Line 3 once. It’s an open wound and central to Minnesota’s current “fraught relationship” with Native nations in northern Minnesota.
For years, the Red Lake and White Earth nations have argued that the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline violates treaty rights to hunt, fish, and gather on lands they ceded to the U.S. government. They have received zero support from the Governor’s Office or his agency heads.
The Star Tribune was willfully ignorant of how important Line 3 is in Indian Country and/or it didn’t want to ask tough questions.
Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order in 2019 committing the state and its various departments to “meaningful and timely consultation” with Native Nations on issues of mutual concern. So what did the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA’s) “meaningful consultation” look like around Enbridge Line 3? Second in a two-part series.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) failed to engage Native Nations in “meaningful consultation” around the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline’s Water Quality Permit, according to documents obtained through the state’s Data Practices Act.
Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order in 2019 committing the state and its various departments and agencies to “meaningful and timely consultation” with Native Nations on issues of mutual concern. So why didn’t the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) meaningfully consult with Tribes on Line 3? First in a two-part series.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) approved several key permits for Enbridge to build its Line 3 tar sands pipeline through northern Minnesota’s streams, wetlands, and wild rice areas, including one certificate that’s supposed to protect water quality.
Under Walz’s executive order 19-24, the MPCA was supposed to engage in meaningful consultation with Native Nations. By all appearances, the agency failed to do so on Line 3.
Examining the MPCA’s tribal relations policies tells why.
The current Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline is more that 50 year’s old. It’s badly corroded and only runs at only 50 percent capacity to reduce spill risks.
Monitoring tools inside the pipeline identify potential problems. When found, workers dig down to the pipeline, inspect it, and make repairs. This is called an “integrity dig.” Enbridge estimated the current Line 3 would need 4,000 integrity digs over 15 years for its safe operation. That’s a lot of digging.
There’s a lot more integrity problems than just one old pipeline. Our entire regulatory system has integrity problems, including its failure to stop the dangerous and unnecessary Line 3 pipeline.
Collectively, we need to dig into this corroded system, understand how it got so compromised, and fix it.
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?