In another sign of ‘corporate capture,’ MPCA posts video promoting Enbridge Line 3

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) has posted a video on its website which can only be called a PR win for the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline, reassuring the public that everything’s going to be OK.

The MPCA’s mission statement is supposed to be “to protect and improve the environment and human health.” The MPCA has lost its way. Somehow it has come to believe that Enbridge, a Canadian corporation, is its main customer. Enbridge is not its main customer. It’s customers are the citizens of Minnesota and the environment that MPCA is charged with protecting.

The MPCA’s video is an example of “corporate capture,” a term used to describe how economic elites undermine human rights and the environment “by exerting undue influence over domestic and international decision-makers and public institutions.” Continue reading

Make your voice heard against Enbridge Line 3, oppose the MPCA’s proposed permit

Current Line 3 route (organge) and proposed route (green).

The proposed Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline route through northern Minnesota would cross more than 200 streams and other water bodies and 79 miles of wetlands. These are some of Minnesota’s cleanest waters.

You now have the several opportunities to speak out against Line 3’s risks to Minnesota’s waters, environment, and Ojibwe peoples.

For the project to move forward, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) needs to approve a water crossing permit, technically called a Section 401 Permit, a requirement of the federal Clean Water Act.

The MPCA issued a draft permit. which is now open for public comment through April 3. For more information, check out the MPCA’s page on the Section 401 Permit. Click here to go directly to the public comment page.

If you want to be heard in person, there will be two public hearings, one Tuesday March 17 in Bemidji and another Wednesday, March 18 in Grand Rapids. MN350 has organized buses from the Twin Cities for both events. Both will return to the Twin Cities on the same day. The cost is $40 if you can afford it, otherwise it’s pay what you can. Click on the link for details. Continue reading

Regular citizens left in the dark about Line 3’s threats to wild rice

Leech Lake members harvest wild rice on Mud Lake. (Photo: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Wild rice is sacred food to Anishinaabe people and Minnesota’s state grain, but the state has no uniform definition of “wild rice waters.”

This creates problems when evaluating the threat to “wild rice waters” from projects such as Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 tar sands crude oil pipeline.

The proposed Line 3 route would cross 340 miles of northern Minnesota — right through the heart of wild rice country — crossing more than 200 water bodies and 75 miles of wetlands. In order to get state approvals, Enbridge needs to show it can build the pipeline through all that water and mitigate the damage to wild rice and other sensitive ecosystems.

Understanding Line 3’s threat to wild rice remains an open and troubling question. Enbridge just submitted a new application to the state for Line 3’s water crossing permit (technically called a Section 401 permit). One might think that Enbridge would want to reassure the public that wild rice would be protected under its plan. Instead, Enbridge submitted highly technical reports that make it nearly impossible for the average citizen to understand this critically important issue.

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MPCA Commissioner Bishop underwhelms responding to Line 3 question

MPCA Commissioner Laura Bishop drew a large crowd at the Growth and Justice breakfast event.

Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) Commissioner Laura Bishop is saying all the right things when it comes to the urgent need to address climate damage and to engage the public and tribal nations in these conversations.

Yet when she was asked to comment on the proposed Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline — and its harm to climate, water and treaty rights — she gave a cautious response, calling for more public input. At one point, she said: “It’s a tough one.”

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Enbridge admits Line 3 construction can’t meet all state environmental standards for protecting water

So why is the project still under consideration?

The proposed Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline will run 340 miles through northern Minnesota, crossing more than 200 water bodies and 75 miles of wetlands. It also threatens wild rice areas important to the Anishinaabe.

Stunningly, Enbridge already has admitted to state regulators that pipeline construction won’t meet state environmental standards for protecting water. Adding to the problem, Enbridge hasn’t provided details about which environmental standards it plans to disregard or where. Instead, Enbridge has provided generalities which essentially boil down to: “Trust us.”

Sadly, the “Trust Us” argument appears to have traction among state regulators, another example of the power imbalance favoring industry in the state’s regulatory system. The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) seemed to have ample trust in Enbridge, approving the project last year over many objections. For instance, it ignored Anishinaabe bands’ claims to treaty rights to hunt, fish, and gather on lands and waters threatened by Line 3.

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U.S. Climate Action Network in Town, Members Voice Opposition to Enbridge Line 3

Members of the U.S. Climate Action Network met with local indigenous and environmental leaders opposing Line 3 at Kellogg Park in St. Paul, across from the conference hotel.

It’s been a good month for those opposing the proposed Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota.

First, earlier this month, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that Line 3’s environmental impact statement was inadequate because it failed to consider the harm of spills in the Lake Superior watershed. That decision essentially voids Line 3’s Certificate of Need and Route Permit from the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). That sends the issue back to the PUC for further deliberations and a revote, and it delays the permitting process the project needs to move forward.

Second, the U.S. Climate Action Network’s (USCAN’s) annual meeting is happening now in St. Paul, and affiliated organizations are throwing their support behind the Stop Line 3 movement. Around 80 people from both local and national groups gathered today at Kellogg Park near the Mississippi River to express their opposition to this unnecessary and dangerous project. Continue reading

Gov. Walz Executive Order Affirms Government-to-Government Relationship with Native Nations

Gov Tim Walz

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.)

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