A hard look at the State of MN’s commitment to ‘meaningful consultation’ with Native Nations

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.

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Federal government requires MPCA to enforce wild rice protections, overriding state laws

The environmental group WaterLegacy and the Fond du Lac and Grand Portage Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa scored a major victory to enforce state water quality rules that protect wild rice.

It’s a huge ruling. It should affect the MPCA’s oversight of existing projects, such as the MinnTac Mine (which has never complied with wild rice water quality standards). It should affect the MPCA’s review of projects in the queue, such as the proposed PolyMet copper-nickel mine.

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What does Tribal Consultation look like?

The Minnesota Legislature strengthened the state’s commitment to consulting with Native Nations, but agencies still need to follow through

On April 5, 2019, Governor Walz issued Executive Order 19-24: “Affirming the Government to Government Relationship between the State of Minnesota and Minnesota Tribal Nations: Providing for Consultation, Coordination, and Cooperation.” It commits the state to “meaningful and timely” consultation.

That’s profound. It means sharing power with Native Nations on issues of mutual concern to make decisions beneficial for both sides.

The executive order states agencies “must consider the input gathered from tribal consultation into their decision-making processes, with the goal of achieving mutually beneficial solutions.”

The Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline provided an early test for the Walz administration’s promise. The administration failed.

A bill passed during special session this year makes another effort to strengthen the state’s commitment to meaningful consultation with Native Nations.

Key to this conversation is being precise about exactly what “meaningful consultation” means and looks like.

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State and federal regulators continue to treat Enbridge with kid gloves, and other Line 3 news

In this blog:

  • With Line 3’s water damages still unaddressed, a growing call on state, federal authorities to hold Enbridge accountable
  • Support Ron Turney, Indigenous activist documenting ongoing environmental harm along Line 3
  • Truthout: Water Protectors fight trumped-up felony charges
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State’s lack of transparency on Line 3 construction disrespects and traumatizes citizens

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (PCA) have utterly failed the public in proactively explaining what is happening on the ground regarding Enbridge Line 3 pipeline construction.

The project has traumatized many Native peoples, who say Line 3 violates their treaty rights and threatens their sacred wild rice. It has traumatized many other citizens, particularly young people, who believe Line 3’s climate impacts will significantly damage their future.

Water protectors on the ground still see problems along the route and struggle to get answers.

It’s the state’s job to inform the public about matters of great public interest. The state’s lack of transparency is inexcusable and infuriating.

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The MPCA failed at meaningful consultation with Native Nations on Line 3: Here’s what it did

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.

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Reading the fine print on the MPCA’s commitment to ‘meaningful consultation’ with Native Nations

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.

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Enbridge has to clean up water it polluted decades ago in order to use it for Line 3 dewatering

Enbridge’s controversial plans to increase dewatering during Line 3 construction got an added complication: Workers need to dewater in areas where the company had past crude oil spills, leaving 8,400 gallons in ground for decades.

That means Enbridge has to treat the dewatered polluted water before returning it to the environment.

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