State to Audit PUC’s Flawed Public Engagement Process

The Minnesota Legislative Audit Commission voted this morning to review the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s (PUC’s) public engagement process, a process that came under heavy criticism during its recent handling of the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline case.

(For details, see: PUC Staff Oversteps Authority, Shows Bias Against Pipeline Resisters.)

Legislative Audit Commission Chair Rep. Rick Hansen said there was bipartisan support for the PUC review. “It is somewhat unique, because it’s both public participation but it’s also commerce, energy, environment all kind of wrapped together,” he said after the meeting. “It’s a good and timely topic.” Continue reading

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.

Continue reading