Legislative Auditor Report: PUC has done “poor job” in public engagement

Winona LaDuke: ‘PUC has a systemic blind spot in dealing with Native tribes’

Sierra Club: ‘A bad process leads to bad outcomes’

PUC: ‘Improved public engagement is a priority’

The Minnesota Office of Legislative Auditor released a report today critical of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and its public engagement process. The PUC has done a “poor job” in helping the public engage in its complex review process, it said. Specifically, the PUC was “not adequately prepared” for engaging the public during the controversial Enbridge Line 3 pipeline hearings.

The report makes a number of recommendations, such as directing PUC leadership “to provide more oversight of the agency’s public participation processes” and to “better prepare for cases with significant public interest.” (Summary here.)

The 98-page report disappoints in one aspect: It fails to clearly call out that, at least in the case of the Line 3 hearings, the PUC’s public engagement failures focused on Line 3 opponents. The report doesn’t explicitly name staff bias as a problem that needs addressing, and it does.

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Line 3 Update: Opportunities to Get Involved

The Progressive Magazine just published a piece updating the Enbridge Line 3 story. Please share.

Meanwhile, MN350 provides this update:

Despite the delays in the permitting process, Enbridge is clearing land in northern Minnesota to make way for Line 3. It’s critical that we continue to grow the resistance. Governor Walz has acknowledged many times that this tar sands project requires a social permit, in addition to a legal permit. When we organize and show up, we make it clear that Minnesotans are not granting that social permit.

Opportunities to get involved follow. Continue reading

Gov. Walz Administration Reconsidering Enbridge Line 3 Lawsuit; Pipeline Resisters Organizing Peaceful Inaugural Response

Gov. Tim Walz administration is reconsidering the state’s role in a lawsuit to stop the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands crude oil pipeline, according to a MinnPost story.

Under Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration, the Minnesota Department of Commerce opposed approving Line 3, saying Enbridge had not proved the pipeline was needed. (Line 3 will cross 330-plus miles of northern Minnesota, threatening the environment and treaty rights.) The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) approved the project last year and Commerce sued in the Minnesota Court of Appeals, asking it to overturn the PUC’s decision.

It remains unclear if the Walz administration will continue the legal challenge or not.

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PUC Staff Oversteps Authority, Shows Bias Against Pipeline Resisters

News reports often highlight when water protectors disrupt the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) meetings or Enbridge Line 3 public hearings; they have not covered the bias and disrespect PUC staff has shown to water protectors. Those actions have undermined trust in the institution and its credibility.

This bias and disrespect needs to be called out. Continue reading

MN350 Launches Rapid Action Team to Keep Pressure On Enbridge Line 3

MN350 Rapid Action Team at the Minnesota Soil and Water Conservation Society’s annual convention, responding to Enbridge Line 3.

I got a call Monday morning from friend and long-time pipeline resister Marty Cobenais, who is enrolled at Red Lake. He was attending the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts’ annual convention and trade show in Bloomington. Enbridge was tabling the event, he said. Company reps were talking about Line 3’s so-called “benefits” and conveniently leaving out the litany of harms: climate damage, impacts on treaty rights, oil spill risks, etc. Continue reading

Water Protectors Ask You To Call Gov. Dayton to Stop Line 3!

Water Protectors occupied an intersection in downtown Bemidji Wednesday to put Gov. Dayton on notice that opposition to Enbridge Line 3 is not going away.

By Scott Russell

Approximately 50 Anishinaabe leaders, faith leaders, and environmental activists occupied an intersection in downtown Bemidji for about three hours Wednesday to continue to bring attention to the tremendous risks posed by the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline and to pressure Gov. Mark Dayton to take a stand opposing it.

Simultaneous to the Bemidji action, other water protectors occupied the anteroom at Dayton’s Capitol office with laptops to Live Stream the event. Twenty-six water protectors eventually received disorderly conduct citations from Bemidji police when they refused the order to disperse.

Dayton has declined to take a position on Line 3. For the past year, he has said he wanted to wait and let the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) make its decision. That decision came in June, and it was irresponsible. The PUC went against the advice of state regulators and the Administrative Law Judge reviewing the proposal and approved Line 3.

The project threatens Minnesota’s clean waters and the world’s climate. The main beneficiary is a large Canadian corporation.

Dayton’s silence is his tacit approval with the project moving forward. The action was meant to let Dayton know that opposition is not going away.

Call the Governor at 651-201-3400 or 800-657-3717 and let him know that you expect him to do everything in his power to ensure that the Line 3 tar sands pipeline is never built.

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U.S. Bank Pulls Enbridge Line of Credit, Line 3 Opponents Say

U.S. Bank has pulled its portion of a $1.3 billion line of credit from Enbridge, according to a news release from Honor the Earth and MN350. It is a victory in efforts to get banks to divest from tar sands pipelines.

Here is the release in full:

MINNEAPOLIS-ST. PAUL — November 2, 2017 — U.S. Bank has ended its credit relationship with Enbridge Inc., the Canadian company seeking to expand tar sands oil transportation through Northern Minnesota with the controversial proposed Line 3 pipeline. U.S. Bank’s move comes amidst a growing local and global movement calling on the banking industry to cut ties to fossil fuel extraction.

A report released today by the Rainforest Action Network, “Funding Tar Sands: Private Banks vs. The Paris Climate Agreement,” cites Bloomberg investor data and criticizes 36 other banks for financing the Canadian pipeline company Enbridge. The report shows that U.S. Bank no longer holds a credit relationship with Enbridge.

As recently as August 2016, U.S. Bank had been a part of extending a multi-bank $1.3 billion line of credit to Enbridge that was not set to expire until late 2019. Last spring, U.S. Bank updated its Environmental Policy to end project-level pipeline construction financing. Continue reading

Honor the Earth, Other Groups, Add New Education Resources to Stop Line 3

New Honor the Earth map on Enbridge Line 3.

If you are a reader of this blog, mostly likely you are strongly opposed to the proposed expansion and reroute of a tar sands crude oil pipeline through northern Minnesota (see map at right).

Enbridge has an old and failing Line 3 (the black line on the map). Enbridge proposes to abandon that line in the ground and install a new, larger pipeline along a new route (the red line on the map.) That new route crosses the Mississippi headwaters and endangers clean lakes, rivers and wild rice beds, and all for nothing. Minnesota’s fossil fuel demand is actually declining.

If you are like a lot of people, you want to have your voice heard but don’t have to time to wade through the hundreds of pages in the recently released draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). Even the most ardent opponents struggle to get through it.

But the good news is, they did. As a result, there are lots of easy-to-read fact sheets coming out to help you understand the core issues. Here are a few helpful resources:

We have created a separate Enbridge Line 3 tab on our blog to organize this kind of information about Line 3 and make it easy to find. If you think we are missing content, please send us a comment.

Keep reading to get a taste of some of the fact sheets’ analysis. Continue reading

Today: Local Protest Against DAPL; Major Diesel Pipeline Spill in Iowa

Protest marches are scheduled today against President Trump’s efforts to push through approvals for the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) and revive the Keystone XL Pipeline.

One march will start in Saint Paul, meeting at Cretin and Marshall avenues. The other march will start in Minneapolis at 47th Avenue South and Lake st. Meet at either site at 3:30 p.m. They will both march to and converge at the Lake Street/Marshall Avenue bridge. Bring signs and banners. This is a nonviolent protest. It will start with prayer, followed by speeches by community leaders and youth. Kalpulli Yaocenoxtli dancers will speak and dance. There will be an open mic and closing prayer.

The event is being organized by youth and MN 350. Here is the Facebook page.

Iowa Diesel Pipeline Spill

In related news MPR is reporting today on a pipeline spill in Iowa: ‘It’s a big one’: Iowa pipeline leaks nearly 140,000 gallons of diesel. The leak occurred in a 12-inch underground pipeline. (For comparison, the DAPL would be a 30-inch pipe carrying crude oil.) Because the pipelines are under pressure, once a leak starts, it leaks fast.

The MPR story said the pipeline, owned by Magellan Midstream Partners, “runs through Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin, as a transport route for multiple refined oil products, ‘including Diesel, Gasoline, Jet fuel, Natural gasoline, Naptha, Propane, Natural Gas, Butane.'”

More than a foot of snow has fallen since Monday in some parts of north-central Iowa. As of Wednesday afternoon, cleanup crews had sucked up “about 25,000 gallons of diesel and a slush-diesel mixture,” reported the Globe Gazette newspaper in Mason City, Iowa.