Enbridge’s aging Line 5 tar sands crude oil pipeline runs through the Bad River Band of Ojibwe reservation in Wisconsin. The Band says Enbridge’s lease expired years ago and it wants the pipeline gone. Enbridge looked at rerouting Line 5 off reservation lands and — surprise — the locals in the city of Mellen didn’t want a pipeline, either. Enbridge took a two-pronged approach; it sued the Bad River Band to keep the old Line 5 in place while continuing to pursue a route through Mellen.
The Minnesota Supreme Court today declined to review a case that could have required the state to complete a traditional cultural property survey before it could permit large construction projects such as the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline.
“We are profoundly disappointed that the Minnesota Supreme Court felt more interested in siding with the rights of a Canadian corporation to proceed with a high-risk project than protecting the rights of the Minnesota Anishinabe and indigenous people and the rights of nature,” Winona LaDuke, Co-founder and Executive Director of Honor the Earth said in a statement. Continue reading →
A few years ago I saw the powerful indigenous-made documentary Red Power Energy. It highlighted Indian Country’s divergent views on mining and resource management. It featured Native Nations in North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming and Colorado. Some Nations were mining coal and drilling oil as part of their economic development plans. Others rejected resource extraction in favor of sustainable wind farms and solar arrays.
I recalled that film when I read the latest news out of Canada on the controversial Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion. An indigenous-led group called “Project Reconciliation” is proposing to buy a majority stake in the pipeline. They are calling it the “Reconciliation Pipeline,” and using the tagline: “There’s a pipeline to reconciliation. We should take it.” According to its website:
Through majority Indigenous ownership, it [the pipeline] can improve Indigenous lives throughout the West. How? By returning profits made from shipping resources to market to the traditional owners of the land from which those resources came.
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.
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.
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.
Governor Mark Dayton said he would not take a position on the Enbridge Line 3 crude oil pipeline before the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted on the project. He wanted the process to run its course, he said. He opposed legislative efforts to meddle in the approval process, too.
The PUC voted 5-0 Thursday to approve Enbridge Line 3’s Certificate of Need, an extremely disappointing vote. The PUC voted 3-2 to approve Enbridge’s preferred route, with one exception. The approved route will jog around Big Sandy Lake, a sacred area to the Anishinaabe. (Star Tribune article here.)
It’s time for Governor Dayton to take a stand.
To add your voice to this call, attend a rally planned outside the Governor’s Mansion, 1006 Summit Ave., St. Paul, at 4 p.m. this Sunday, July 1. (Facebook event here. Check for updates.) Stop Line 3 is organizing the event, which is co-hosted by Honor the Earth, MN 350 and Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light.
Day Four of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) deliberations on Enbridge Line 3 included concerns about possible civil disobedience after the vote, how law enforcement should respond, and plans to mitigate the sex trafficking and drug problems that can follow these large construction projects. Continue reading →
MPR reports that the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration is a late entrant into the Enbridge Line 3 tar sands crude oil pipeline debate — recommending the state approve the Canadian company’s request. The letter, arriving at the 11th hour, could foreshadow Trump administration intervention on Line 3, similar to what it did on the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Today was Day Two of four scheduled meetings for the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to debate and vote on Enbridge Line 3. The process already appears to be taking longer than expected. Continue reading →