An Open Letter to Gov. Walz on Line 3, its public purpose, its costs and benefits, and needed action

Dear Gov. Walz:

Your voice and leadership matter in the debate over the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline.

You have given Minnesotans the impression that you have no authority to intervene. While you can’t snap your fingers and stop the project, you have more power than you’re letting on. You oversee agencies charged with making sure Enbridge meets all state environmental requirements in the pipeline’s construction and operation. You have the bully pulpit to let citizens know your candid views.

Last year, you told Minnesotans that Line 3 needed not just a building permit, but a “social permit.” We need to hear from you the specific conditions Line 3 must meet to secure such a “social permit.” At a minimum, it should include transparency. So far, the Line 3’s public record is both voluminous and technical, often leading to more confusion than clarity. The state needs to make a clear statement, in lay terms that people can understand, about the project’s public purpose and its costs and benefits. We have yet to get such a statement. Citizens deserve it.

I offer the following summary of Line 3’s public purpose, its costs and benefits, and critiques of the process. I also include specific actions you could take that would move this state in a good direction.

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Dear Canadian Consulate: Your hypocrisy on Line 3 is unbecoming and dishonours the Crown

An Open Letter to Ariel Delouya, Consul General, the Canadian Consulate in Minnesota

Dear Mr. Delouya,

I recently read the letter you submitted on behalf of the Canadian Consulate in Minnesota to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission in support of the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands crude oil pipeline, specifically your support for Line 3’s revised environmental impact statement.

Given Canada’s commitment to respect the rights of First Nations peoples, it’s galling that you and your government are supporting violation of indigenous rights here in Minnesota. Your letter couches your support for Line 3 in the language of high principles, stating: “Canada is committed to renewing the relationship with lndigenous Peoples, based on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership.”

The position you are taking on Enbridge Line 3 fails to live up to those ideals.

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United Methodist Church returns Ohio church lands to the Wyandottes, and other news and events

In this blog:

  • United Methodist Church returns Ohio church lands to the Wyandotte Nation — 200 years after the federal government forced its relocation
  • Invitation to attend the “Change the Name” rally at U.S. Bank Stadium when the Washington Reds*ins play the Vikings Oct. 24
  • “Stories from our Native neighbors” event, Oct. 9, First Lutheran Church in Columbia Heights
  • Minnesota Court of Appeals hears oral arguments in Fond du Lac Band member Jim Northrup’s treaty rights case
  • The Tohono O’odham Nation, the Pasqua Yaqui, and the Hopi Tribe are part of suit that blocks large copper mine in Arizona

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Reflections on Reconciliation, Sacred Sites, and Broken Treaties

The term “reconciliation” is a deeply problematic word when it comes to indigenous-colonizer relationships. The word refers to restoring friendly relationships when for indigenous peoples, friendly relationships never existed with colonizers.

Canada had a lengthy Truth and Reconciliation Commission, something not attempted yet in the United States. We struggle with the first half of the proposition — simply telling the truth. 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

PUC Adds Conditions to Enbridge’s Line 3 Approval, But Only Those Acceptable to Enbridge

The current Line 3 is blue, the proposed reroute is in red. Light green shaded area reflects the “ceded lands” where bands retain rights to hunt, fish and gather.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) added conditions to Enbridge Line 3 pipeline permits, but they could amount to a Band Aid on a skull fracture.

Probably good to have a Band Aid. Just not really all that good.

The PUC had a strong position to negotiate permit language for the new Enbridge Line 3 tar sands pipeline. The PUC failed to use its power and act in the best interests of Minnesotans. Continue reading