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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In Approving Major Crude Oil Pipelines, Consulting with Native Nations is Not Enough; the Goal is Consent

When it comes to crude oil pipeline projects, Indigenous concerns and opposition all too often get marginalized by decision makers.

Such conduct violates the principles outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, a commitment both the United States and Canada support. The Declaration says that governments should get Indigenous nation’s free, prior and informed consent before “adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.”

What happens in practice is that the powers-that-be have a “conversation” with Native nations, check the “consultation” box, and think they’re done. That’s not good enough.

The latest example comes from the Standing Rock Sioux Nation in North Dakota. It has found government documents that show how little Indigenous concerns mattered when it came to the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). Continue reading

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

U.S. Supreme Court Agrees with Trump Administration to Temporarily Halt Youth Climate Suit and Other News

News in this blog:

  • In a rare move, the U.S. Supreme Court agrees with Trump Administration request, halts trial sought by children and youth to force the United States to act on climate change.
  • PBS starts four-part series Tuesday called “Native America,” which “reaches back 15,000 years to reveal massive cities aligned to the stars, unique systems of science and spirituality, and over 100 million people connected by social networks spanning two continents.”
  • Canadian Court Temporarily Blocks Kinder Morgan Pipeline permit, says National Energy Board failed to consult with First Nations.

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Oglala Sioux Win Court Victory Stopping Uranium Mine and Other Weekend Reads

The Oglala Sioux Tribe won a case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, stopping the planned Dewey-Burdock uranium mine, at least for now, according to a story in Lakota Country Times.

On Friday, July 20, 2018, the Court ruled in Oglala Sioux Tribe vs. Nuclear Regulatory Committee that the committee failed to consider the potential impacts the mine would have on the environment. The Oglala Sioux Tribe had argued that the proposed 10,000-acre mine would permanently damage its resources including, water, cultural artifacts, and historical sites. …

The Court did not revoke the company’s license as desired by Water Protectors. It did, however, force the case back to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for further consideration in light of its discussion in the decision. It also prevented the company behind the mine from conducting any work that disturbs the ground.

In addition to the positive outcome, this gives some small measure of hope for the upcoming legal battles to stop Enbridge Line 3. Click on the link above for the full story. Keep reading for more articles. Continue reading

Indigenous Prayer Camp in Canada Opposes Line 3; Kinder Morgan Pipeline, Oil Tanker Traffic, Threatens Orcas

Passing along a couple of items from my inbox: An indigenous prayer camp in Manitoba will oppose the Line 3 at the U.S. boarder crossing and a new Canadian tar sands crude oil pipeline to British Columbia will threaten the already stressed orcas in Puget Sound because of the increased oil tanker traffic it will generate.

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Lawsuits Being Readied Against North Dakota Law Enforcement, and More Stories from Indian Country Today

I spun through Indian Country Today’s news page for the past few days — so many good stories. They include articles on:

  • Lawsuits that will be pressed against law enforcement for the excessive force used against the water protectors near Standing Rock.
  • How a Native American water protector got an electoral vote for U.S. President.
  • Canada’s efforts to take action on its Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and
  • How stopping one oil pipeline is winning a battle, not the war.

Below is a quick summary of each article and links to the full text. (And consider bookmarking Indian Country Today on your browser.) Continue reading