Treaty People Walk for Water Aug. 7-25, Gazelka puts undue influence on MPCA to approve Line 3, and more

In this blog:

  • Treaty People Walk for Water, Aug. 7-25
  • Gazelka crosses line in Line 3 lobbying
  • What we know, and don’t know, about Enbridge’s drilling mud and frac-outs
  • MPCA not providing information on Line 3 frac-outs
  • Comments critical of the MPCA disappear from the MPCA’s Facebook Page.
  • Concerns raised that a federal bill gives “blank check” to crack down on pipeline protesters
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As Enbridge races to finish Line 3 construction, more suspected frac-outs

Water Protector Shanai Matteson points to the Willow River frac-out. Screengrab from Honor the Earth video.

On July 6, water protectors found an Enbridge Line 3 frac-out at the Willow River.

On Monday, Honor the Earth reported a suspected Line 3 frac-out at the Shell River. [Update July 22: The MPCA says there was no frac-out on the shell. It did report that Enbridge has had frac-outs at nine different construction sites. Updated blog coming soon.]

Today, the Indigenous Environmental Network reported a suspected Line 3 frac-out near the Mississippi headwaters. (Video here.)

Details of the frac-outs are still coming in.

It’s possible to see frac-outs on the surface of rivers and wetlands. There could be other frac-outs below the surface that remain unseen.

How many frac-outs will it take for state regulators to require something different, or do they dismiss frac-outs as an acceptable environmental cost?

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Latest PolyMet court decision again highlights the MPCA’s failure to do its job

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA’s) mission is to protect and improve the environment and human health. It’s supposed to be the state’s leading environmental watchdog. But it’s been the kind of watchdog that, when a robber enters the room, it rolls over on its back in hopes of getting a belly rub.

The courts are doing more to protect our environment than the MPCA. That’s backwards. The MPCA should be in court pushing for more environmental protection.

The latest MPCA embarrassment came in the form of a Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling Monday that rejected the air quality permit the agency approved for PolyMet’s proposed copper-sulfide mine.

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Water protectors highlight Willow Creek frac-out, and the out-of-whackness of state Line 3 regulators and law enforcement

A government-Enbridge alliance is doing all it can to block Minnesota citizens from observing and critiquing the construction of Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline.

Tania Aubid, Winona LaDuke, Shanai Matteson and other water protectors arrived around 7 a.m. this morning at the site where Enbridge is drilling a tunnel for Line 3 under the Willow River in Aitkin County. The water protectors found what appeared to be a “frac-out,” the release of pipeline drilling mud into the river.

The state’s response focused more on trying to intimidate the water protectors for their activism than addressing the frac-out, Matteson said.

It’s a sign of the state’s upside down values. It raises questions about the state’s ability and interest in protecting the environment for future generations and who state agencies are working for.

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Revisiting the PUC’s tortured logic to approve Line 3 regardless of its massive climate damage

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) wrote in its Certificate of Need for Enbridge Line 3 that benefits of approving it outweighed the costs.

It could only come to that conclusion by completely ignoring climate damage.

There are clear signs in the record that Commissioners were grasping at straws to justify approving Line 3 in spite of its clear and significant climate damage.

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Line 3 and the erosion of public trust in the Rule of Law

Camp Fire Light members charged with “trespass” peacefully leave, receiving citations. (Photo: RISE Coalition)

The Rule of Law is fundamental to democracy, a basic guarantee of fairness. It means that people, companies, and institutions are accountable to laws that are understandable and publicly known. It means that these laws are equally enforced and independently adjudicated in court.

The state of Minnesota’s handling of the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline has severely eroded public trust in the Rule of Law.

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Northern Metal Case Study: The MPCA’s claims to have held the company ‘accountable’ don’t hold up to scrutiny

Third part of a three-part series

Part I and Part II:  The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) permitted a giant metal shredder and recycling operation in North Minneapolis in a neighborhood where residents already faced high asthma rates. Northern Metal Recycling began operating in 2009 and initial smokestack tests showed it was violating air quality standards for particle pollution. The MPCA’s solution was to update Northern Metal’s permit in 2012 to allow more air pollution. Independent air testing in 2016 showed air pollution problems were worse than expected, including lead pollution. Community members demanded state action. Still, Northern Metal was able to forestall MPCA’s enforcement action.

Part III: Northern Metal’s is caught doctoring records and faces no serious consequences. It’s eventually forced out of North Minneapolis, nearly a decade after the first air quality violations were reported. The MPCA’s response to Northern Metal is not an outlier. There are other examples where the agency sided with corporate interests over residents’ interests.

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