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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DNR Approves Enbridge Line 3 “Pre-Construction” Work; Trump Expected to Weaken State’s Pipeline Oversight

The controversial Enbridge Line 3 pipeline still faces significant court challenges and needs numerous state and federal permits, but Enbridge already has begun to work on the project.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) has given Enbridge permission to conduct “pre-construction” work for its Line 3 crude oil pipeline on DNR-administered state lands, the DNR says. “These activities include civil and environmental survey and geotechnical boring,” the statement said.

The DNR’s statement came in response to questions posed by Healing Minnesota Stories about reports that Enbridge might have begun Line 3 construction prior to receiving necessary permits. Continue reading

For Enbridge Line 3, It’s the Calm Before the Storm

It’s quiet now, but there’s a looming confrontation over Enbridge Line 3.

After many contentious hearings last year, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved the Line 3 crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota. It was a flawed decision, ignoring climate change, treaty rights, spill risks, and the fact that Minnesota doesn’t need this pipeline to meet its oil needs.

On one hand, Line 3 still faces legal challenges and regulatory hurdles and can still be stopped. On the other, the federal government could intervene and try approve the pipeline even if the state objects.

Civil disobedience and direct action could occur should Enbridge start construction. So far things have been relatively calm. Should construction start, it’s going to get ugly. (See earlier blog: Minnesota Law Enforcement Already Coordinating with Enbridge to Respond to Line 3 Protests, Report Says.)

In the meantime, here’s what’s going on behind the scenes.

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MN Dept. of Commerce Joins Appeal Against Enbridge Line 3, Protest at Line 3 Storage Yard, and More

More than 50 pipeline resisters met at this pipeline storage yard in a Carlton County gravel pit Thursday to call on the state to halt all Line 3 construction and pre-construction activities until all Line 3 reviews are complete. Enbridge has several such storage yards around the state that don’t have appropriate permits.

Governor Mark Dayton came out today against the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota, backing a legal challenge by the Minnesota Department of Commerce to overturn the decision of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

Members of MN350, the Youth Climate Intervenors and the Sierra Club stopped by Gov. Dayton’s office today to thank his staff for his support of the Line 3 appeal.

In a decision that didn’t seem to line up with the facts, the PUC voted this summer to grant Line 3 a Certificate of Need and a Route permit. Line 3 will add significantly to climate damage and violate treaty rights. Oil spills from Line 3 could damage the Mississippi River and our clean lakes and streams. The evidence shows Minnesota doesn’t need this pipeline; it will only serve to help Canada’s foreign export efforts.

Indigenous and environmental groups have been pushing Dayton to take a stand against Line 3 for more than a year. Now in his final weeks in office, Dayton took a very positive step to stop this unnecessary project. According to his news release, he said:

“I strongly support my Commerce Department’s appeal of the Public Utilities Commission’s Order.

“Enbridge failed to provide a future demand forecast for its product, which is required by state law. Instead, the company presented its analysis of the future oil supply from Canadian tar sands extractions. It failed to demonstrate that Minnesota needs this pipeline to meet our future oil demand. In fact, most of the product would flow through our state to supply other states and countries.

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Youth Rally Against Climate Change, Promise Legal Challenge to Line 3 Crude Oil Pipeline

Sunday’s “Our Future, Our Right” March with MN Youth for a Fossil Free Future.
The march and rally ended in the Minnesota Capitol rotunda.

Youth around the world will feel the greatest impacts of climate change. So it makes sense that youth are taking a lead to force the government and business interests to stop thinking about short-term profits and two-year election cycles and start thinking long-term about the planet’s very survival.

Youth are taking the federal government to court to force stronger action against climate change. They are taking the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to court to stop the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline. They are petitioning the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to write stronger regulations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. They are getting ready for the 2019 legislative session.

To bring attention to their work, youth-led groups organized a climate justice rally and march on Sunday called “Our Future, Our Right.” Several hundred people gathered at the U.S. Federal Courthouse in Downtown St. Paul to show their solidarity with the youth leaders, then marched with them to the state Capitol.

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Pushing Back on the PUC, Part II: State Agencies Criticize Enbridge Line 3 Promises, Seek Changes

This is the second in a series that will review responses to Enbridge’s last-minute promises to improve its Line 3 pipeline project. The PUC adopted these with no pubic scrutiny. This blog looks at the responses from state agencies. The last blog will look at responses from Friends of the Headwaters.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) allowed Enbridge to change its proposal after the official record had closed. Specifically, the PUC accepted Enbridge’s deal sweeteners and voted to approve them without giving regulators or the public a chance to review and critique them.

While Enbridge’s promises might look good on paper that’s no guarantee they will deliver.

In today’s blog, we look at the many questions and concerns raised by state agencies involved with project oversight: the Minnesota Department of Commerce (DOC), the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

These responses show just how little thought Commissioners gave Enbridge’s proposals before giving them the green light.

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