PUC Casts Final Pro Pipeline Vote: Line 3 Opposition Now Heads to the Courts, Streets, Camps, Pulpits, and Gov. Walz’s Office

The Minnesota Senate Building opens at 7:30 a.m. but the powers-that-be required those wanting to attend the PUC hearing on Line 3 to wait outside in the cold until after 9 a.m. to get inside

As expected, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) today rejected requests to reconsider its approval of the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota. As predictable as it was, the decision remains heart breaking.

Pipeline Resisters visited with Gov. Tim Walz transition staff Randolph Briley and Alexis Kochanski after the PUC vote.

Red Lake, White Earth, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Honor the Earth, the Sierra Club, the Youth Climate Intervenors, and Friends of the Headwaters had asked the PUC to reconsider approving Line 3. Commissioners summarily and unanimously dismissed their request, 5-0. The PUC continued to ignore the Environmental Impact Statement’s conclusion that Line 3 would generate $287 billion in climate damage. It continued to ignore the Administrative Law Judge’s findings that approving Enbridge’s preferred route failed to meet the cost/benefit test. It continued to ignore Commerce’s conclusion that Enbridge failed to prove Line 3 was needed. It continued to ignore the impacts the pipeline would have on treaty rights.

The PUC took no comments from intervening parties asking for reconsideration. The whole process probably lasted five minutes, enough time for a few commissioners to say they had already considered these issues and there was nothing more to talk about.

The PUC gave Enbridge pretty much everything it wanted. It’s an example of corporate capture, where the government institutions created to protect the public get co-opted by corporate interests. Its the Minnesota version of what is happening with the Environmental Protection Agency.

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As Key Enbridge Line 3 Vote Looms Monday, Encouraging News in Other Pipeline Resistance Efforts

Proposals to build new crude oil pipelines are an investment in an old and failing energy infrastructure. They reflect a world view that favors short-term profits over the long-term health of local economies and the planet itself. Investors make money off selling refined gas, but shift long-term costs to future generations — costs from destructive oil mining practices, costs from future oil spills, and costs from climate change.

It is no wonder that Native nations and indigenous advocates have lead efforts to stop new crude oil pipelines, as they hold to a world view that considers the impacts of decisions seven generations into the future.

As we head into what is expected to be a frustrating Monday meeting at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) regarding the future of Enbridge Line 3, let’s pause for a moment to reflect on some recent wins. They are a reminder that this work takes years, allies continue the resistance, and we do have victories. Continue reading

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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Enbridge’s Oil Spill Analysis Not Credible, Ignores Tribal Impacts, Appears Intentionally Confusing

Enbridge estimates a worst-case crude oil spill in Minnesota from its proposed Line 3 pipeline would cost about $1 billion to clean up. It’s a staggering number. What’s worse, Enbridge’s analysis is flawed, making self-serving assumptions that allow it to low-ball the costs of a catastrophic rupture.

Enbridge filed its thin, seven-page report Tuesday with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), analyzing the costs of a worst-case spill. Among its most glaring errors, Enbridge failed to recognize any of the unique impacts a major oil spill would have on Anishinaabe people. It also made favorable assumptions about Enbridge’s response time, lowering the cost estimates. Continue reading

Legal Challenges Take Shape Against Line 3 and the PUC’s Anti-Indian, Anti-Environment Vote

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC’s) deeply flawed decision approving the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota likely will get challenged in court. Some of the legal arguments against the PUC are now coming into focus.

Seven organizations and tribal governments filed motions asking the PUC to reconsider its vote approving Line 3’s Certificate of Need. The Minnesota Department of Commerce’s motion says the PUC’s decision: “contains legal errors and ambiguities.” The Youth Climate Intervenors’ motion said that: “The Commission’s explicit denial of climate science and wholesale dismissal of treaty rights as ‘unnecessary’ are appalling.” A joint motion by Honor the Earth, the White Earth Band of Ojibwe, and the Red Lake Band of Chippewa, said the PUC’s order: “fails to interpret state law to favor the public interest and protect the environment as against private interests.”

It’s doubtful the PUC will budge and reverse its vote, but this is a necessary procedural step to allow Line 3 opponents to sue in court. The legal arguments contained in these motions could form the basis for future lawsuits. If this issue does go to court, the PUC will have a lot of explaining to do about why it consistently favored Enbridge and ignored public testimony and the administrative law judge’s independent recommendations.

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PUC Final Order Approving Line 3 is Racist

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC’s) Sept. 5 final order approving the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline is disturbing. It ignores significant arguments brought forward by Native nations, environmental groups and youth, cherry picking facts to justify its decision.

The order has many flaws in how it addresses climate change, environmental risks to our state’s clean waters, and other issues that will be explored in a later blog. This blog focuses on the order’s racist conclusion that the PUC doesn’t need to consider the pipeline’s treaty rights impacts. Continue reading

Strib: MN Commerce Dept. Asks the PUC to Reverse Its Ruling and Deny Enbridge Line 3 Permits

Breaking news from the Star Tribune: Minnesota Commerce Department asks utility regulators to vacate Enbridge’s approval for Line 3. It starts out:

The Minnesota Department of Commerce has asked state utility regulators to vacate their decision to grant Enbridge a permit for a controversial oil pipeline across northern Minnesota.

The Commerce Department, in a regulatory filing Tuesday, claims the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC) ruling is “affected by legal error and is unsupported by the evidence.”

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