American Priorities

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I have been thinking for a while that America is his own worst enemy. [Yes, “his” is intentional.] We have, from the beginning been a country focused on self-centered, elitist, careless, and cruel action. We began the colonization of this land with a genocide of the Indigenous people who were here before our arrival. We continued to build negative Karma with the enslavement of Blacks who we imported to create and build our economy. Throughout our history we abused and tortured many waves of Immigrants, each group having to prove themselves worthy, typically by waiting until a next group arrived to take their place in the chain of victimization.

I imagine it could be different…

A recent article by Matt Taibbi really spoke to the nature of America as a War Nation.

“Trump’s decisions on Syria and Afghanistan will lay bare the real distinctions in American politics. Political power in this country is not divided between right and left, and not even between rich and poor.

The real line is between a war party, and everyone else.”

~ Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

And it’s true, we are the Arms Dealer to the World and we are responsible for much of the destruction and devastation on this planet. It’s how we became the big boy on the street and how we finance much of our economy. It’s also sadly how we spend most of our tax dollars.

Image result for defense as a portion of US spending

I long for the days of Dennis Kucinich and his talk of a Department of Peace. Imagine if we took all the money we spend on “defense” and war and instead spent it on infrastructure, health, education, living wages, and PEACE!

Dan and I visited the Rabideau Civilian Conservation Corps Camp this past fall. It was interesting to read the stories of how the camp began, was supported, and functioned. Housing for able-bodied men was built and training was supplied by under/unemployed locals with skills. These men would provide for themselves and do projects in the Chippewa National Forest from surveying and building roads to wildlife protection and forestry. There was also a less successful version for women. Perhaps this visit was one of the events that got me to thinking that there must be a way to make some kind of program that would accomplish these tasks in today’s world.

We have an available unemployed population and a lack of jobs for these individuals. And we have an abundance of aging retirees with skills to share… and often nothing very productive to do with their time. We have a tremendous need for infrastructure development. We have a need for caregivers for every age group from children to elderly, with much of them in need of housing and food. We have a need for equipping people with skills that can be useful to them in creating value for themselves, their families, and their communities.

If we created an opportunity, we would find many willing, or simply desperate enough, to come work for room and board and a small stipend. God knows there are migrants at the border seeking asylum and we could provide for them as well as our own citizens.

What if we built a system of renewable energy that allowed us to completely divest from the dirty fossil fuel industry? What if we helped do this in other countries too? Would they not hate us then? It certainly would do much for our mitigation of the climate change that appears to be making our planet less and less livable.

What if we built tiny houses for our homeless? Or better yet, assured everyone had equal access to resources so we didn’t create a situation where people become homeless? [Interesting to see how Canada differs from the US in causes of homelessness. Even the way the information is presented seem to show our cultural differences.]

What if we assured that all children had books instead of a parent who is gone from home as a soldier overseas? [Interesting, when I went to Google how many children had parents “in the service” many links pop up for children who have a parent who is incarcerated. While this is another concern we could likely fix with a focus on positive rather than negative, the information I found on military was largely out of date or vague… but this was interesting…]

Our soldiers and our unemployed, and their families, could all be made whole as we focused on positive COOPERATION and BUILDING rather than negative KILLING and DESTRUCTION. And our citizens would be happier if we were all able to make a living wage.

This could be what the Green New Deal brings us. A focus on building positive things and a moving away from negative forces. Consideration of the people who have been straddled with the waste and pollution of our energy and manufacturing and then evening the playing field for their well-being. Realizing that everything in interconnected and solving problems requires a team that considers this complexity.

And I’m sure there could be a Smart Healthy New Deal that could deal with healthcare systems and education elements.

But then, I’m a socialist. While I think most of us are if we really think about it – I mean, who doesn’t like public roads, schools, libraries, fire stations, and Americans’ favorite… Social Security – capitalism has taken over by and large and perhaps it’s not possible in today’s America.

I’m not sure we have the ability to get there at present. Americans are too busy just trying to make ends meet to even consider WHY they can’t make ends meet and what could be different to make that not so. Americans are too forgetful, just hearing the atrocities of the day and then going on with making dinner and watching television. And Americans are too arrogant to admit that they might have done anything wrong and so see no need to apologize for their past misdeeds, often blaming a previous generation while not realizing our current generation is creating its own misdeeds, even if only due to ignorance and leaving the current system of power in place.

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Did you get this mailing?

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So, as some kind of requirement I’m guessing, the Army Corps of Engineers sent out a mailer. Not sure of the distribution and, based on reading it, can’t really tell its purpose. It just seems like another vague, meaningless, government mailer, only differing from those glossy campaign ads in its plainness… perhaps hoping to go unnoticed by the citizenry.

Being a Water Protector involved in the Stop Line 3 movement, I knew there was more to this than it appeared in this simple mailer. If you investigate further, you can read the MUCH LONGER Public Notice available online. It’s a bit more forthcoming…

I urge you to see past the mailer’s spurious nature and take action. It does reference Line 3 but fails to note that the new line will be transporting Tar Sands. It gives some details of the application for permit but seems innocuous with its “temporarily discharge fill material” start. Do they want you to think this is just a temporary thing happening? “No need to worry, Citizen, this is no big deal,” it seems to say. “Go about your business.”

In actuality, the permit being requested is to install a permanent pipeline through wetlands and crossing multiple bodies of water throughout Northern Minnesota. It is a pipeline that would carry Tar Sands oil from Canada, through Minnesota, to make it available for export, likely to China. This is the exact material that, if we’d like to avoid destroying our planet’s ability to sustain human life, needs to remain IN THE GROUND. Even Exxon realized that this material is not worth extracting…

“Exxon has long resisted calls to erase these reserves from its books, insisting that it would dig up the tar sands someday, according to Inside Climate News. When a company erases an investment off the books, it’s effectively saying, “We bought something that’s now worthless.” This isn’t an easy thing to admit. “

2/23/17 article for Grist.com by Nathaneal Johnson

And it is the first of an estimated 5-6 pipelines that Enbridge likely plans to install in the 220′ easement they are requesting from homeowners. A typical pipeline would request 50-75′ of easement for a new pipeline. This Enbridge request clearly appears to be for a new PIPELINE CORRIDOR.

If you go to the website on the mailer, you see:

Project summary

Enbridge Inc. has submitted a permit application for activities affecting water resources associated with the proposed construction of the Line 3 replacement crude oil pipeline across Minnesota, and a nearly one-mile segment in North Dakota. The Corps of Engineers is evaluating the application for (1) construction-related impacts to wetlands, specifically the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the U.S.; (2) work in, over or under navigable waters; and (3) crossings of federal projects. …

(1) Construction of the pipeline would temporarily impact more than 1,000 acres of wetlands, and permanently impact 10 acres; if authorized Enbridge would restore all temporarily-affected wetlands to pre-construction conditions and mitigate for permanent impacts

(2) The project proposes crossing 211 water bodies, three of which are considered navigable waters (emphasis mine)

(3) There is a single request to alter the Lost River Flood Control Project, a channel clearing and snagging project, located in Red Lake County, Minnesota

USACE does not regulate the overall construction or operation of pipelines, nor does it regulate the siting of any type of pipeline/utility line or any substance being transported within a pipeline.

Notice how they don’t mention the two crossings of the Mississippi River? Notice the simple reference to “navigable waters”? Again, this appears to be hiding the facts from the public. And THIS is one reason why we need a full Public Hearing regarding this decision.

The website also provides many links, which can keep you busy for hours (if you too dare to commit to a more full understanding of what is happening in our fair state). But the bottom line is that we need EVERY CITIZEN to submit public comment and REQUEST PUBLIC HEARINGS on this decision.

7. PUBLIC HEARING REQUESTS. Any person may request, in writing, within the comment period specified in this notice, that a public hearing be held to consider this application. Requests for public hearings shall state, in detail, the reasons for holding a public hearing. A request may be denied if substantive reasons for holding a hearing are not provided or if there is otherwise no valid interest to be served.

US Army Corps of Engineers Public Notice regarding Enbridge’s Permit Request for a New Line 3

It is clear from the overwhelming opposition to Line 3 in the PUC Public Comments (94% of comments opposed Line 3 approval), the stance of faith leaders against Line 3, the DOC and interested party lawsuits against the PUC, the violation of Treaty Rights the pipeline entails, the lack of accountability being required of Enbridge in the current PUC approval, and the continued public outcry and actions that Minnesota does NOT want or need this pipeline. It is clear that the public has not been heeded to date by the PUC… but perhaps the Army Corps of Engineers will be more open to listening. We need to give the public a chance to have their voices heard.

Enbridge would like you to believe that their lines are safe… while they have one of the worst safety records of all the fossil fuel companies. Enbridge would like you to believe they are a good corporate citizen… but ask the people of Marshall. Michigan how well they were treated following the disastrous spill there. Enbridge would like you to believe there will be LOADS of jobs… while in reality, there will be a handful and some say only one permanent full-time position will result from the installation.

Enbridge is known for their lies. They are lying to us now.

Please pay attention to this notice. Please help make an effort to save Minnesota from the invasion of a Tar Sands pipeline through our lovely state.

The website does not much more than the mailer to direct you on how to make comment. But at the very bottom of the 13 page notice, it explains what you can do. NOTE: DEADLINE is January 21, 2019

Interested parties are invited to submit to this office written facts, arguments, or objections within 30 days of the date of this notice. These statements should bear upon the suitability of the location and the adequacy of the project and should, if appropriate, suggest any changes believed to be desirable. Comments received may be forwarded to the applicant. Written comments may be emailed to: CEMVP-L3R-PN-Comments@usace.army.mil Written comments may be mailed to: St. Paul District Corps of Engineers, CEMVP-OP-R 180 Fifth Street East, Suite 700 Saint Paul, MN 55101 1678. To receive Regulatory Public Notices by e-mail, go to: http://mvp-extstp/list_server/ and add your information in the New Registration Box.

Thank you for your support. It’s going to take ALL OF US.

Our Beloved Lucky 13

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[Written 12-26-18]

We put Lucky 13 down this morning. 

It was, again, a very hard thing to do.  I had told Dan a week or two ago, “It’s hard to know when it’s too early… but it’s always easy to know when it’s too late.”  At that point, it was still a gray area to us.  I told him I thought we should probably put him down once January got here.  He’s been getting more and more feeble, finding it harder to get around, often unable to find the food dish I’d set down for him without assistance.  He was still getting to the litter box, still eating and drinking, sleeping a much of the time, but finding some time each day to curl up with us or beg a piece of cheese he knew you were eating.  We’d get through Christmas and then see about getting him transitioned.

We took a rare trip to the Cities for Solstice and our neighbor Connie was checking on Lucky.  On Sunday, she reported to me, “He was not moving well.” I didn’t know what this meant but was anxious to get home to him.  On finding him Sunday evening, I knew something was different.  He was just sitting on the carpet and made a sound when I came into the house.  I went to him and picked him up, cuddling him and telling him, “Momma’s here.”  He sat quiet with me.  I made him some “soup”. 

He hasn’t had teeth for years, well over a decade – maybe two since that shit Vet took all his front teeth making it very difficult to eat.  Mom had started giving him soft food when he moved to Minnesota and into her place with Dan.  For a long time after moving to the Harn, I would hand feed him, stacking up the food so he could grab a mouthful and throw it back.  In recent months, he’d had trouble even with that but seemed to like the kibble and do well with it so I stopped the soft food.  Last time we were gone – maybe a month ago – Connie had reverted him to the old routine, as I’d forgot to tell her we’d stopped the soft food.  I’m sure he was happy she’d reverted as I soon figured out that putting his food in a bowl with warm water and smooshing it all up allowed him to get some of it.  And it gave him plenty of liquid which is always good. 

So that evening I made him a helping of “soup” and he slurped it down.  So I made another.  And another.  By the fourth helping, he slowed and so we went and sat in the chair and cuddled.  He was definitely different but still seemed relatively content.  I decided to sleep with him in the recliner Sunday night.  About 4AM I woke and put Lucky on the floor at the foot of the recliner all wrapped up in the blankies.  He was comfy and snoozing on my return so I decided to head to bed.  He woke me with a meow about 7 AM.  Not sure what all he’d done but he was sitting about 20 feet away in the kitchen.  We ended up back in the recliner and about 7:30 AM, he had what appeared to be a series of seizures – just tensed up and head thrown back.  I comforted him, told him he could go, waited through it.  Seemed long but likely only about 15-20 seconds in all.  We resumed rest.  It was Christmas Eve but we called the local vet we’d checked with months back and left a message.  I figured we’d have to wait a couple days and was hoping Lucky would pass before then.

Every so often Lucky would stand up.  Sometimes he would stare and stand still, sometimes just reposition, sometimes I would try putting him in the litter box or giving him water.  Pretty much he was just vacant. If he did walk around, he was walking in circles to the left.  I mostly would bundle him back up and he’d go back to resting.  And the Vet did call back to note that she was moving practice and would not be available until 2019.  So, we figured it was a waiting game, just keeping him comfy. 

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day he seemed to be more of himself.  He seemed more aware of us, more responsive, he ate some more, pooped and later peed in the box for me.  Of course, this made the decision to put him down the day after Christmas ever harder.  But he still walked in circles when he was on the floor.  He still was very wobbly when he stood up from rest.

Dan made a fire in the Rocket Mass Heater – the bench has always been called the “Lucky Bed” and soon we found him wandering over that way.  I helped him up to it and he settled.  Soon he was curled up sleeping in this warm place.  Again, he seemed more like the old Lucky, and stronger, though he was still a bit wobbly.  He spent most of the evening there, coming off onto the floor to cool off as he’s always done.  A couple times he seemed to fall more than gently lie down.  I emailed the Vet clinic asking if we could get in early Wednesday.

Hoping for an early morning, we headed to bed with Lucky and he snuggled all evening between the two of us.  He has been for the last year or so, snuggling under the covers and lying next to us with his head on an arm or shoulder.  It’s been pretty great.  And it was wonderful to have one last night of cuddling.

I was up at 6:40 and got Lucky a “soup” since he was up with me.  Then I put him back with Dan in bed.  The vet office called at 7 and gave us an 8:30 appointment.  I worked on getting tea ready for the road trip, preparing the blankets in which I would carry Lucky, and eventually warming up the car.  Then Dan snuck his arm from under the boy.  I picked him up and took him over for a bowl of half & half, a treat Mom often gave him, and a habit we continued randomly.  It was good to know that he’d had every bit of goodness we could squeeze into his last few days.  I was having a harder and harder time knowing that he was down to hours, then minutes, left with us.

We loaded into the car and Lucky sat facing me in my lap, head butting me, winding in a circle in the blankets on the lap, returning for more face-to-face snuggles and, about halfway there, finally lying down across my lap under the blankets.  I let him be. 

On arrival, Dan went in to get everything done and, when our room was ready, he came out and got Lucky and me and we all headed inside. 

It was hard but the vet was friendly, compassionate, and attentive.  Lucky was calm but he gave him a sedative, standard practice these days it seems.  We’d had all our words and snuggles over the previous days and the ride over which was good as he was pretty knocked out within a few moments.  We stroked him and comforted him for a few minutes, said all those words again, and then the doc returned for his final injection.

I still cry when I think of it.  It’s still so hard to process.  But by the time we walked out with our shell of a kitty, I was in a better place.  I know we’d done good by him.  I know we gave him a good life.  And a good death.

Now the hard work will be continuing on without his sweet presence.

The Green New Deal

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I’m kind of thinking we might not really have much of a chance to win this one… You know, the saving of the planet for human life.  I will continue to try but it’s pretty obvious from the recent IPCC report that we are not likely going to make it.  Though I am inspired by the actions of Sunrise Movement and the fight for transparency that Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is bringing to American politics as she pushes for this deal.  And I am uber excited about people like this teen from Sweden…  Her full speech to the United Nations plenary at COP24 in Poland is quite blunt.

If you want to read a bit more about the historical…   And Alexander Kaufman wrote an article expanding on the historical and how the Green New Deal of AOC (the idea I support as it is ambitious and integrated) is better.  Of course, he wrote this back in June and what have we done up to now?  Not much.  See how quickly the hope can be dashed?  

“Polls show that Americans overwhelmingly support efforts to reduce climate pollution and increase renewable energy capacity, even if it comes with a cost.”  – Alexander Kaufman, Huff Post article

If you know a public official that wants to help, please direct them to sign on to support climate justice.  There are many who’ve signed already.

[Update: Since writing this blog a few days early, it looks like we’ve gotten more bad news… losing hope again. Should have added to the title “Denial ~ How Pelosi Destroyed the Planet.” But back to when I was more hopeful and wrote…]

Dan & I chose to watch live the Town Hall hosted by Bernie Sanders and several major environmental groups and activists.  It’s worth the watch.  It’s about as long as a movie but will likely give you much more that informs your life than a typical movie.  And there’s even a great Republican who gives me hope (though these can be a bit hard to find in the climate movement).  The message starts out a bit grim but as more and more is shared about how this is possible, you end feeling like this Green New Deal is really doable.  And it will save not just the planet but it will resolve many of the social and racial justice concerns of our time.  If people, especially government and corporate leaders, come on board that is.  As long as we have people sitting on the sidelines and not getting involved, we may not have time to save things for humans.  If you prefer reading, this is a good article.

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This Republican, Dale Ross, gives me hope.  

If you’re interested in learning more on how we’re doing globally, you might want to check out Climate Action Tracker where you can find data galore.  Spoiler Alert: It’s not looking good…  

current policies

But the good news is that the planet will go on.  Yes, we will take out a lot of species with us – heck, we’ve already made a wasteland of this planet in so many ways so no surprise there.  One of the most visceral photos for me is this one…  You can read more on this here.

Image result for pile of buffalo skulls
It’s photos like this, and my knowledge of how many greedy, thoughtless people there are like this on the planet today, that make me doubt our chances.

But then, there are also many wonderful young people, Indigenous people, and activists globally, who are standing up for climate justice.  Will you stand with them?

Year End at the Harn 2018

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As the year closes down,we still have a long list of things to do here at the Harn.  We still have yet to get to cobbing the RHM.  But we’ve been doing lots of other stuff and I’ve been sending lots of cards and letters though I still owe a few…

We continue to work on activism and helping others with their projects.  An unexpected accident in November of a couple friends changed our calendar a bit and we’re all learning from the experience.  Life is not always what we plan but it’s been nice seeing so much good come from what was a fatal tragedy for another family.  When you almost lost a friend, it makes you look hard at what is important in life and we have decided that one of the most important things is spending time with those we love. 

The simple things like cooking become a gift and a privilege when we do them for those we love.  It’s been a cooking month and I have enjoyed cooking for St. Lucia in Osage at Bruce & Budd’s, Alida Church Potluck, and several visitors we have had at the Harn, some of them bringing lovely gifts like a beautiful wood cook stove from Bruce & Cheryl O’theShire. 

And baking together is a real joy as well as being productive. The Alida Baking Club again allowed me to join them for candy making and I took home a HUGE platter of cookies and candies that we were able to share with friends and family.   Connie’s platter looks lovely and Glenda enjoys her beverage while Ada likes a bowl.  I did miss the Shevlin Garden Club as we we’re spending the time with Anne (see below) but I am happy to have passed the Phenology baton to Janine.

And I’ve been making a bunch of pendants – really loving this fun work.  I happened to make a couple for one of my bookseller friends and ended up giving three away when I happened upon a CSB Bookseller Gathering on a recent trip to my old workplace. And you can see the new scarf I picked up at Char’s Yarn Basket – it’s a daily wear for me now as I just love it!

Dan has begun his work as Citizen Advisor to our local Electrical Co-op.  I’ve been lucky to get to the symphony twice recently thanks to Connie, a neighbor who performs in the Bemidji Symphony Orchestra. And we both enjoyed the Babe City Roller Fundraiser with DJ Divewire and Corey Medina & Brothers.  What a great night though we needed a “disco nap” to be able to make it through the evening.  

Catching some zzzzzs in the Wally World parking lot.

Little did I know I’d win Anne’s quilts… I didn’t even enter!  But Ann Zick got the winning answer and gave her prize to me!!  Anne and I celebrated with Dan – the First Tea Party at the Home at Crone Cross – after we installed a new carpeting from Jamie Sandberg.

And I’ve continued being political…  I recently sent to Tina Smith(and also to Amy Klobuchar with one sentence removed):

I voted for you though I didn’t want to.  I am sickened by your stand for Polymet and against the clean waters of Minnesota.  I am disturbed by the financial contacts you maintain that seem to create a conflict of interest for you serving the people of Minnesota instead of your corporate friends. I don’t know how you can call yourself a Minnesotan and not care most for our clean waters.  Recycling efforts for copper offer much more opportunity than mining.  And fossil fuels are on the way out so it’s time to stop investing in pipelines, especially for Tar Sands which must remain in the ground to have a habitable planet.

I don’t have lots of money to entice you with but I hope you will answer to your conscience and start standing for clean water, the most valuable resource on the planet.  Maybe this will help… Just think how RICH all us Minnesotans can be if we’re the only ones with clean water in another decade!!! 

Please use your brain to do some critical thinking.  Use it to consider our children’s future.  Then make decisions and votes that align with children, clean water, and a livable future for our state.

UPDATE 12-21-18: After receiving a form letter response which gave no answer to any of the content in my letter from Ms. Smith, I sent her the following input:
Form Letters say to your Constituents, “I’m not listening to your input, here’s what I believe and what I will continue to believe.” If all you are going to send as a response is a form letter, you should know that form letters are not usually helpful when someone sends you information for consideration. Unless, of course, that is what you’re trying to communicate – basically, “I don’t care about you or what you think”. While this is unbecoming of a Senator, I am pretty sure it’s exactly how you really feel. At least that’s what I feel at this point in our communications. But, I know, I’m just a lowly citizen in out-state Minnesota. I’m not expecting any better from a Senator with financial interests that appear to supercede the importance of clean water, safe industry, and respect for Indigenous citizens, let alone little ole me. [Man, I’m pretty blunt and sarcastic, eh? I guess sometimes that helps me feel like I’m sending a clear message of frustration and anger…]

And on hearing Zinke resigned, I encouraged Senators to replace him with a candidate that will work for us, not Big Oil: We need pure water, clean air, and a healthy ecosystem,NOT continued devastation of our lands. Let’s take a note from the Indigenous who lived sustainably here for thousands of years before the colonists arrived.  We have destroyed so much in a short time.  It’s past time for land stewardship that assures we have a livable planet for our generations to come.

I don’t know that my actions will make a difference but I have to act as if they will.  There was good coverage in the Pioneer recently saying that actions do make a difference and I am glad to live in a place where people feel compelled to stand for their fellow citizens, truth,and justice.  And I’m even more glad to know so many of these wonderful citizens personally.

Here’s to success in 2019 for Justice, Truth, and Compassion.

My Letter to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

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Mr. Stine & Associates,
I truly hoped to send hand-written letters but I find that the electronic communications offers so much more opportunity to share links to data which I feel are crucial in this issue of deciding whether or not to allow Enbridge, a foreign corporation, to install a new Line 3 pipeline to carry risky Tar Sands through our precious watersheds so they can sell it offshore.
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has been giving me hope ever since the first DEIS hearing on Line 3 in Rice Lake.  It was there that I met two MPCA folks and I wish I’d kept better notes to tell you their names but I believe Willis Mattison was one contact.  It was made clear to me that the New Line 3 would have to receive permits from the MPCA in order to be approved for build. As we spoke of the dangers of Tar Sands and the importance of the Mississippi River watershed, I got the impression that the MPCA could very well find reason to not approve a pipeline crossing under the Mississippi River or traversing through wetlands, the most dangerous places for a Tar Sands pipeline regardless of what the fossil fuel industry says. This MPCA permitting process has been giving me hope during the 18 months since that June day.
The DEIS meeting was an enlightening experience.  I was horrified with the lack of concern given to Indigenous rights that was presented by the DOC. Jamie MacAlister herself explained to me that Tribal Resources were NOT being given priority consideration in this DEIS. The fact that a people’s way of life – the very people who gave us rights to this land nonetheless – was of no more importance than a Canadian corporation’s desire to make mere money was beyond my comprehension. I was sickened by the thought of all those Tar Sands coming through along a new 220′ wide and hundreds of mile long corridor of destruction through our state. I have since learned of some of the destruction done to the land even before they begin putting pipe into the ground – the trees that are turned into sawdust and ground into the dirt, the beings quietly hibernating whose lives are cut short by these preparations. [Watch the Press Conference video link below to hear Doug Rasch’s eloquent but ominous description of the pipeline construction process, one he watched on his property when the Koch brothers line was constructed.]  But I was inspired to hope that day by the PCA reps in attendance.  I can’t recall now if I wrote thank you notes to them, as I’ve since done with Bill Grant and the DOC more recently.  I am hopeful that you have their names so you can give them a pat on the back for their representation there. I believe they were also present at the DEIS in Park Rapids the next day.

But more importantly I fear for the very viability of our planet that a new Line 3 would threaten.  It is clear if you watch the news in the last 60 days that information on the rapidly (much more rapidly than even predicted) deteriorating planet we inhabit.  From the loss of insect life and annihilation of wildlife to the shifting climate zones and the overwhelming costs of drought, fire, flood, and storms, it is clear we are running out of time to act.  Rather than add NEW fossil fuel infrastructure, we need to be dialing back on the use of fossil fuels as quickly as possible.  The IPCC says we have about a decade to save ourselves.
The MPCA has the ability to scientifically show that a new Tar Sands pipeline has no place in Minnesota, especially considering the Next Generation Energy Act and Renewable Energy Standard that was signed into law by Governor Tim Pawlenty in 2007 and is helping drive Minnesota as one of the most progressive in this transition time away from fossil fuels.  This is why I moved from Indiana to Minnesota in 2014 – to live in a place where it seemed progress based on science and morals was happening.  A place where education was important because critical thinking matters.  A place where the environment was not a resource for exploitation but an interconnected part of human life, critical for not only sustenance but also for solace.
I write now to strongly encourage you to DENY the 401 permit needed by Enbridge to continue its assault on the planet.  Together we can stop Line 3 from being built in our fair state and we can help prevent the extraction of Tar Sands which must remain in the ground for planetary viability. The majority of citizens oppose the new Line 3.  We are not paid by Enbridge to support the pipeline like many of those are who shout for Line 3 approval, all wearing their matching green t-shirts.   We are scientists, engineers, parents, educators, and others who are voluntarily giving our time and energy to oppose Line 3.
I am hopeful that your work will include transparency to the public, including a chance for public notification of your findings and a place and time for public feedback on your conclusions. I understand this will bring a possibility for pro-pipeline opinions but I am confident in the science to prove their economic arguments carry no weight when compared to the devastation Tar Sands are already causing for our planet.  I am hopeful that, as scientists, you will give due consideration to the evidence, rather than deferring to Enbridge’s statements which basically request that we trust them without skepticism, even if their data is vague, unproven, and/or untrue.  Please consider giving full transparency to the public on this vital decision.  As many comprehend, economic opportunities mean little if we don’t have a safe place to live.
The timing for consideration is perfect as every day there is a new report either on the prospects for our future, the dangerous results of Climate Change – from the NorthSouthEast and West, the science that says we have a short window of opportunity to mitigate the effects of all the carbon and methane we are putting into the atmosphere and that it will take a global effort, or the growing protests of massive groups and individuals around the world saying it’s time we think about the future we will leave our children.  Minnesota is already changing.  Yes, adults like you and me have less time to eek out a survival on this planet.  But our children’s lives will see much more chaos and change, some of it I’m sure we cannot even yet imagine, if we continue on the path we have been with fossil fuels.
Bill McKibben makes it plain in this 4 minute video, which notes that in less than 15 years – ten now as this video was from 2013 [and this figure was recently confirmed by the IPCC report] we will have used ALL the gigatons of C that will take us past 2 degrees Celsius for the planet’s warming. We must leave the Tar Sands in the ground if we hope to have a planet that is livable for our grandchildren.  And his more recent article explains this situation from a current perspective.
Meanwhile, the current Republican President doesn’t believe in his own administration’s report.  And his administration is cutting the funds needed to continue to understand and address this issue.  When we can’t count on our national government to assure the security of its citizens, we need State agencies to take a stand to protect us and our homeland.
We need scientists, using critical thinking, and being unmotivated by dollars from industry, to assure that we are making the best decisions for our state.  Please do all you can to STOP Line 3 from becoming a reality.  Your recent posting about the We Are Water MN exhibit in Bemidji indicates you understand the importance of protecting water.  I am counting on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to help prevent a disastrous Tar Sands Pipeline and the chemicals it would contain from bringing devastation to our state.  From the perspective of Treaty Rights, the rights of our Youth for a livable planet, and the health and safety of our people, our animals, plants, land, air and water, a new, bigger Line 3 makes no sense.
Thank you for your consideration.
Jami Gaither

Walz 2018 Listening Tour – Bemidji Edition

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Note: His partner Peggy Flanagan was in St. Cloud and Foley while Tim visited with us in Bemidji on Sunday at 1:30 PM.

Walz 12-3-18

While I was not happy to vote for Tim Walz, I felt I had to in order to prevent Trump loving Johnson from winning.  The fact that he and Peggy Flanagan are doing a Listening Tour at all is encouraging, as it was to see the group of Water Protectors welcomed at their Transition Office on the 19th of November after the Public Utility Cowards finalized their love fest with Enbridge in approving the requested Line 3 pretty much exactly as Enbridge wanted it.

I thought I was recording so didn’t take notes but there were many excellent comments.  From Education, especially pre-K education for impoverished people, to many iterations of Water Protection including Treaty Rights, Walz got an earful from us.  I didn’t have time to read my statement and questions but I was able to give them to his staffer who assured me he would get it in the car.  I’d put all my contact info on the sheet but I’m not sure I’ll get any kind of response.  Time will tell…  Here’s what I wrote:

Minnesota’s focus on clean energy has allowed over a 30% reduction in greenhouse gases in the decade since the Next Generation Energy Act and Renewable Energy Standard was signed into law by Governor Tim Pawlenty in 2007. Minnesota is currently above average in the U.S. with 50% of our energy coming from renewables.  Renewable energy aligns with the million reasons people visit Northern Minnesota for hunting, fishing, lakes, and trees.  Our northland economy relies on clean water, land, and air to support tens of thousands of jobs, not just in tourism but also in farming, our largest industry in rural Minnesota.

We know from the Department of Commerce that Enbridge’s proposed Line 3 is not needed in the Minnesota Region.  The current route approved by the PUC would run through Minnesota’s wetlands and across its many streams, lakes and rivers to pipe Tar Sands oil, and the chemicals needed to make it flow, from Western Canada to global markets offshore and in doing so would produce the same greenhouse gas as 50 coal-fired power plants.

We know two facts: The Alberta Tar Sands are currently the largest generator of air pollution in North America.  And we know that every pipeline leaks meaning it’s not a matter of IF but WHEN Tar Sands will devastate our watersheds and impact our vibrant economy.

Can you as Governor justify allowing Minnesota to be used as a conduit for bringing such a devastating increase to our global climate emergency while also creating such a substantial risk to our local economy largely based on a clean environment?  What will you do, Governor-elect Walz, to assure that Minnesota divests itself from supporting the Tar Sands economy?

Tim began the session by stressing that local folks are the best decision makers.  He wanted from us, ideas on who he should be placing as Commissions to be most effective.  He used some capitalistic language, he failed to mention Treaty Rights when bringing up Line 3, and he spoke about a “business climate”.  But he did appear to be listening in the the room of over 160 citizens as he sat at the front with Bemidji Mayor Rita Albrecht and took a LOT of notes.

He has put together a team of 30 very diverse people from Mayors to Educators, Fortune 400 CEOs to Spiritual Leaders to look for the people that will be best incoming “servant leaders” to partner the state and local agencies to make government work for Minnesota.  He did say the agencies were NOT regulatory agencies to tell you what to do and not do, but instead to help us all figure out how to do things like make economic activity and still protect the environment or assure resources and equity in education.  He assured us this was the first of many meetings to assure the public is heard. And he emphasized unity while still holding our own core beliefs.

Quite a lot of what he said was attractive and I appreciated that he replied to people by name on the few times he did respond.  He spent most of the time listening to the people voice concerns and ideas rather than giving his own stances for each new item.

Many people spoke and some I knew.  Michael Lane, Assistant Professor at BSU, commented on Native Sovereignty, including his concern about the Brackeen v. Zinke case where the Indian Child Welfare Act was recently deemed unconstitutional.  This is an important case to watch as it could signal a very bad future.  Consider whether it would be acceptable for Americans to go to Mexico and simply tell families which children they wanted to take home with them, regardless of what the family wanted.  Or do you need to try to visualize Germans trying to take the children of Poland at will to truly comprehend the wrongness of this?  I mean, what’s next if you can steal the children of a sovereign nation?  What more could you do?  Literally anything you want.

A woman named Kasey spoke of how limited and difficult her life is because of the lack of resources available for people with mental illness like her. Several members of Lake Associations spoke on the massive amounts of dollars and volunteer hours they commit to protecting our lakes without having any access to being involved as citizen members with the DNR, without having a seat at the table in those discussions even though there are many scientists in these citizen organizations.  A Director of Northern Dental Access (a non-profit in Bemidji) spoke about the need for finding commissioners for the Departments of Health and of Human Services who can work together (apparently an ongoing difficult issue with the present commissioners) and that we bring more rural people in advisory roles.  [I believe we can do this easily with technology as I’ve sat in my Harn watching PUC hearings or participating in Webinars globally.]  She also cautioned on reimbursement changes to assure continued and increased coverage which is very necessary at present.  Walz did speak after this calling for us to support him on these measures.  He LIVES in “Greater Minnesota” so he gets it but he also stressed again that we all should be making suggestions to his committee or going online to apply for the positions that are open through 12/7/18.

Eugene Summers from Natawash (Minnesota Chippewa Tribe band member) asked how the voice of the Indigenous will be heard and Tim noted that an enrolled member of the White Earth Band of the Ojibwe will be sitting in the Lieutenant Governor’s seat in short order.  He did note here that there are eleven sovereign nations and that each has its own treaty rights that differ so he will need help from all.  Dialogue should be on the front end and respectful.  He mentioned that he lives in Mankato six blocks from the execution site of the 38.  Reconciliation and healing are necessary.  Even in this room today he noted the wide array of political, religious, ethnicities, etc. but that we also have common goals: improving the lives of citizens, assuring freedoms are respected, and creating fiscally and morally responsible budgets.

Several talked about the growing concern with aquatic invasive species (AIS).   An educator said we need to fix the differences between metro and rural education opportunities.  Willis Mattison (28 years with the MN Pollution Control Agency) spoke on the fact that the voice of science is filtered through policy issues which prohibits the Governor from hearing the true and vital voice of science.  An independent panel of scientists, unbeholden to any agency, would be a good addition to assure the Governor gets good information.  Willis’ own experience showed that when he spoke the truth in some administrations, he was successful while under other administrations he was punished.

Audrey Thayer spoke from the perspective of a simple citizen on three issues:

  1. Considering the recent shooting in Bemidji, there is a need, not for more officers, but for more diversity and understanding in our communities.  (As a light-skinned Indigenous, she hears more than many… being somewhat invisible.)
  2. We’re not going anywhere if our water is not taken care of and we have to understand this.  Yes, we need jobs but we can’t afford to lose our wild rice.
  3. Education needs to be true.  Middle school children are still learning about Christopher Columbus but our history needs to reflect the truth, including that of our Anishinaabe and Dakota heritage.

Tim applauded all of us for attending and being civically minded.  He is visiting places both where he won and where he lost.  He is listening to all constituents.  He still sounds like a typical politician.  And I agree with him… even for this white woman, it’s pretty difficult to trust another old, white man telling me he knows where I’m coming from.  I really only voted against Johnson, not truly for Walz.  I hope he can prove me wrong and make me a believer.  Today I heard his words but I will be watching for his actions.  He asked all of us to hold him accountable.  I plan to do my part.

I hope both Walz and Flanagan hear another earful on Protecting Minnesota Water this afternoon in Duluth when they wrap up this 2018 tour.

What’s Thanksgiving all about Really?

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This past Thursday, I spent quite a lot of time reading about the history of the Thanksgiving holiday. It’s been a topic for a while now.  And having more and more interaction with the Indigenous friends in our lives makes this kind of contemplation ever more prevalent.

I think it started with a call to some friends, a couple we know – one Indigenous and one non-Indigenous, about a family matter.  After discussing the situation, I ended up asking what their Thanksgiving plans were.  There was hesitation.  Then one said they were working.  And I got this kind of uncomfortable feeling like I’d committed a social faux pas as I hung up the phone.  I texted an Anishanaabe Elder I know for an opinion.  I know their opinion isn’t the be all end all.  I know there are a WIDE variety of opinions and beliefs but I trusted this person to know my heart and give me thoughtful input about the situation.  They assured me that they are not usually offended by someone asking of their Thanksgiving Day plans as they get what people mean by asking.  Personally, they just answer “honestly and briefly…  No political debate necessary”.  If it becomes a big deal, they suggested, perhaps these folks just don’t want to be friends.  Well, I will definitely talk this through with my friends when I see them again in person and hopefully their input will again give me more food for thought.

I do agree with my Elder friend that this is typically just a day to join with others, have a meal, and be thankful for the harvest.  And I think more than ever these days, it’s just a mindless part of our culture – yes, a predominantly white colonizer culture (is mindless a necessary descriptor or inherent in this one?)  It’s very complex.  For most in the Unites States I would guess it’s just “what we do every year”.  We have turkey and dressing, cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes.  It’s maybe that one time a year yams get any attention for many.

Then I noticed much more posting this year on FB about the downside of this holiday, the horror of it.  And so I began to think about it a bit more.  I began reading.  And I started considering the thoughtlessness and materialism of it all as I became more informed.

It’s largely a capitalist dream come true for turkey sellers, cranberry growers, grocery stores, airlines, and Big Oil as the biggest travel day of the year.  Everyone makes plans to begin the “holiday season” (though I guess some consider Halloween the start of the season now…) with visits and overeating and football.  Oh, yeah, the NFL.  Oh, and I guess basketball too.  Eat and watch TV.  This is pretty much the holiday for many.  And if you really think about it, it’s kind of a mindless mess.  And it’s very typical of what has been United States mainstream culture for most of my life.

Our holiday was not exactly typical: nuclear family sitting down for a meal that took all day to prepare with multiple layers of appetizers, drinks, meal, dessert, coffee, sandwiches later, more dessert, more drinks.  But it wasn’t too far from typical.  Mom and I prepared some simple food.  Dan and I brought a pork roast from a pig friends of ours raised that we cooked overnight in the crock pot (and which turned out pretty amazing if I do say so myself).  Mom baked a cherry pie and I made pumpkin custard (though I forgot my own organic pumpkin prepared last fall and frozen so had to get some canned organic pumpkin puree while we were in Duluth just prior to being at Mom’s).  She found a GF corn soufflé recipe and made it and we boiled some potatoes for mashing.   We took the juice from the roast and made a quick corn starch gravy and I baked some new GF rolls I’ve been trying to perfect.  This was the third attempt and they were once again good… but AGAIN the yeast failed me – they were not light and fluffy.  They were, once again, more biscuits than rolls.  But they were tasty.  All in all, we put in a couple hours on preparation but we were not harried, we were relaxed.  It was not super complex, it was a pretty simple meal.  And we invited over a friend who lives alone to join us.  We called the boy in Colorado and chatted with him and his partner.  We spent much more time and attention on their cat, Jax, than psychologists would likely say is healthy.  After dinner, we did a brief round of saying what we’re thankful for and I felt like we’d put at least some thought into it.  Could it have been much more thoughtful? Yes.  And perhaps next year we will have a better plan as this seems for me to be a year of learning.

While we were at Mom’s, MSNBC had a brief story about Lincoln’s declaration of the Thanksgiving holiday back in 1863. Dan informed me that Lincoln made his declaration for a day of thanksgiving just after the battle of Chickamouga, one of the bloodiest losses of the Civil War with 34,624 casualties.  However, Lincoln’s proclamation said nothing of pilgrims or Indians or turkeys for that matter.  It was a imploring that God heal the “wounds of the nation” and restore a “full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and union.”

Washington issued a similar proclamation 74 years earlier to the day on 10-3-1789.  While his did not create a national holiday, it too had nothing to do with pilgrims, Indians, or turkey.  Again, it was in deference to “Almighty God” and requested our humble thanks for “his Providence in the courfe and conclufion of the late war” (Revolutionary) among other things.  [I’m not sure if there just weren’t enough “s” type pieces or if the “f” and “s” pieces were somehow in proximity and thus often interchanged during typesetting.]

And now there is evidence that the “first” Thanksgiving may have happened in St Augustine, Florida!  (1565)  [But, of course, this is Fox News so there is little evidence or fact offered in the story… ] The Catholics had more on it along with a second “Thanksgiving” held April 30, 1598 in Texas!  This Texas Almanac link was full of details on this and closes with enough examples of claims to the holiday to prove there are too many claims to the beginnings of “Thanksgiving” to give an exhaustive list.

In reality, any discussions of the “first Thanksgiving” are wrong regardless as peoples of all kinds have for centuries practiced feasts of “thanksgiving”.  Even though it began officially in the U.S. as the last Thursday in November under Lincoln, Roosevelt moved it to the earlier fourth Thursday in 1939, prompted by requests from the National Retail Dry Goods Association because the later date only allowed 20 shopping days for Christmas!  [Told you it was a capitalist dream come true!]  Roosevelt had declined their request in 1933 as he thought it would create confusion and he proved this was the case in 1939 when he granted it and only 23 states joined him in the move while 23 states stayed with the original last Thursday. Texas and Colorado apparently celebrated both days…   Confusion continued in 1940 and, in 1941 Roosevelt made it official with a national law declaring the fourth Thursday as Thanksgiving Day. Texas held out until 1957 in adhering to the new national law by finally changing their state law to match.

After quite a bit of time reading about the history and the mythology, I found many good links for further edification.   Rebecca Beatrice Brooks gave a shorter historical review of what many think of as the “first Thanksgiving”  in her History of Massachusetts Blog.   A longer and more complex explanation, with detailed journal entries, was given by Karen Felte in 2001.

For most Americans, the main idea of Thanksgiving’s beginnings lie in the mythology of a struggling colonial population learning skills from their Native friends , which culminated in a celebration in 1621 of a great “thanksgiving” feast after the harvest.

The details are a bit trickier when you dig into it.  The colonists did struggle after arriving in 1607 at Jamestown because of severe drought and cold winters.   Their arrival coincided with a seven-year drought (1606–1612), the driest stretch in 770 years.   The subsequent pressure by the English on the Natives for help led to conflict and eventually a siege of their fort by Powhatan, the main chief of many local Natives, in 1609 that resulted in something I don’t recall learning about, the Starving Time.  This only ended when reinforcements brought advantage back to the English and allowed the capture of Powhatan’s daughter – someone you might have heard of… Pocahontas – who was used as leverage to negotiate a peace.  After all this, I find it hard to believe there could ever have been a “peaceful celebration feast between pilgrims and Indians” less than ten years later.

There is also belief that the true meaning of Thanksgiving is a result of the Mystic Massacre of 1637.  Part of the Pequot Wars, this May 23rd attack occurred during the Native’s own Green Corn Festival.  The two exits to the Pequot Fort were set afire by forces commanded by Captains John Mason and John Underhill after an initial rush into Fort Mystic was found to be overwhelming.  In this burning, the colonists killed hundreds, most of the village, including many women, elderly, and children.  Anyone who attempted escape was killed by the English forces or the Narragansett and Mohegan allies that backed them.  Following the attack, the Governor John Winthrop of Massachusetts Bay Colony declared a “day of thanksgiving”.

“The 12th of the 8th m. was ordered to bee kept a day of publicke thanksgiving to God for his great m’cies in subdewing the Pecoits, bringing the soldiers in safety, the successe of the conference, & good news from Germany.”  ~ Nathaniel Shurtleff, ed. Records of the Governor and Company of the Massachusetts Bay in New England, Vol I. Boston, 1853. p.204

As with any portion of history, there are many sides to the story and many perspectives of belief.   Yes, some were grateful for the Fort Mystic Massacre.  But others expressed regret for the injustice. Just like the German Holocaust, some Germans failed to evade the brainwashing of the Nazis while others, namely the White Rose Society members, stood strongly against them throughout.  Even today we cannot find common ground on killings.  And while some in the long ago past may have celebrated a massacre of the Pequot with a day of “publicke thanksgiving to God for his great m’cies in subdewing the Pecoits”, I would hope to believe that few if anyone today is celebrating Thanksgiving with the massacre of Indians in mind.

“While few would suggest that Thanksgiving should become the occasion for a yearly guilt trip, we would do well to remember the price the first Americans paid for European expansion into their territories as we sit around the bountiful table with our family and friends. Only by openly acknowledging the sins of our collective past, is it possible to proceed toward a future that all Americans can feel thankful for.” ~ Richard Schiffman, Huffington Post

In reality, every time we feast, we are truly, consciously or subconsciously, giving thanks.  And this is more in line with an idea expressed in Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer where she discusses The Thanksgiving Address of the Haudenosaunee.   In this video, these people discuss the beauty and power of this practice.  We are dependent on Creator and all of Creation for our continued survival.  It is thoughtful and respectful to remember this with ongoing thanks-giving.  To remember that we are all connected to Mother Earth and all her residents.

I have friends who offer tobacco (aka kinikinik) daily.  Not growing up in a religious household or one that followed any daily rituals, this is somewhat foreign to me.  Though I have incorporated some forms of ritual that I’ve gathered over the years as part of my own practices, I’m quite inconsistent with anything.  I have quite an eclectic mix of practices but I am more of an as-it-comes-to-mind-in-my-daily-endeavors kind of practitioner rather than one who prays before each meal or as a morning routine.  But I kind of live in a constant state of gratitude as best I can.  It’s difficult in these trying times to hold to gratitude but I do my best.

From this year’s coverage, I thought these stories were interesting:

Sioux Chef Sean Sherman shares his perspective with Carol Hills of PRI’s The World.

After years of racism and sexist news out of NC, this story highlights a controversy regarding teaching of Thanksgiving in schools that occurred in North Carolina’s Wake County public schools district after a tweet by Lauryn Mascareñaz of the district’s Office of Equity Affairs.   IMO, this article appropriately references this excerpt:

“More than a century later, the U.S. still wrestles with challenges of diversity, and we’re still tempted to distort the “first Thanksgiving” into one of two equally present-minded morality tales: the heart-warming multicultural celebration or the cruel reminder of European colonialism. Both tell us more about current perspectives than historical realities. If such caricatures are really our best options, historical truth would be better served by deleting Thanksgiving from the curriculum entirely.” ~   NY Times opinion by Robert Tracy McKenzie

I believe what’s important to remember is that there are many ideas and memories around this holiday.  Some are happy and inclusive and compassionate and some are horrible and cruel and brutal.  I believe they are all a part of the history of where we are today and can be thoughtfully incorporated into perhaps a new day in the future where we heal the hurts of the past and celebrate our communal bounty.  But first we must find a way to come together to determine what wounds need healing and how we can best go about doing that.  And likely first we need to find a way to find common ground together as we strive to forge a more loving and compassionate world.  We have a long way to go… but we can take a first step.

Water Work Continues

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The latest Minnesota Public Utilities Commission meeting was another disappointment.  But the expectation level for them is so low now that it wasn’t that far of a fall.  Expecting to hear from the Intervening Parties and from all parties on the technical merits and shortcomings, I expected a full day potentially going into Tuesday.  But no.  The PUC adjourned the meeting at 2 hours 8 minutes.

From the outset, Chairwoman Lange made clear that there would be no opening statements taken today.  “Questions will happen and parties will come to mic to answer.”  Later in the day, Senator John Marty read, to a group of Water Protectors gathered at the Senate Building, the statement he’d prepared to read to the PUC today.  They’d previously allowed State Representatives give statements in the proceedings but perhaps that’s only if you’re a pro-pipeine member…  They told him today that “this was not the beginning of a meeting but the continuation of a past one…”

The PUCowards asked no questions and had little comment on the first two items on the agenda.

  1. What action should the Commission take on the Enbridge Motion to Strike Filings?
  2. Should the Commission reconsider its September 5, 2018 Order Granting Certificate of Need as Modified and Requiring Filings?

In the motion to strike fillings, Lipschultz moved to deny admission of reconsiderations as they were late.  Motion Carried 5-0  9:35 AM  The timely motions for reconsideration were denied with a motion, again from Lipschultz, to deny reconsideration. Chairwoman Lange noted Reconsideration is a time to see if there were any errors by law or reason or judgment – none of these conditions exist, no new ideas to consider except DOC’s idea that they can’t consider current line which does not make sense.  Carried 5-0  9:41 AM

This decision was followed by about a minute of LOUD Protest in the room.  “Scientists have spoken – 12 years to resolve.” and multiple rounds of “Line 3 is an immediate climate disaster – we will stop Line 3.”  Order was restored by 9:42 AM

The next agenda item was…

3. What action should the Commission take on the Honor the Earth Motion to Disclose Insurance Exclusion Clauses?

Chairwoman Lange asked for any questions.  NONE!!  WTF!  Sieben moved to deny HTE as the information was not justified to be released to the public.  Tuma seconded.  Lipschultz noted that the parties had access to this information; he supports the motion too.  Carried 5-0  9:44 AM  [I’m thinking, “This could be done by 10 AM!!]

4. What action should the Commission take concerning the certificate of need modifications compliance filing filed by Enbridge on July 16, 2018, pursuant to the Commission’s June 28, 2018 oral directives on certificate of need modifications?  Specifically, regarding these five items: Parental Guarantee, Landowner Choice, Decommissioning Trust, Neutral Footprint Program/Tree for Tree Replacement, and Enbridge Liability Insurance.

There are gory details for all of these issues as this was the ONLY portion of the day when Commissioners asked questions.  This item accounted for 88% of the meeting time. But I’ll limit the reporting to the highlights.

A) Parental Guarantee

 

 

Election Results Final Yet?

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While I was not happy with some of the highlighted elections that could have gone more progressive, this year’s midterms were not as disappointing as they could have been.  It would have been nice to have Gillum, O’Roarke, and Abrahms elected, it’s kind of nice to think about them possibly being available for the next Democratic Presidential run… However, the midterms were bad enough with the many corporate candidates, especially here in Minnesota.  The only good thing on our ballot was Ellison who might give us a chance at defeating Enbridge.  Walz has given no indication to date that he will be any help.  But we can continue to pressure him and give him reason to change his tune.  You can click here to give him your input.  The Transition Team is awaiting our voices.   Please Speak Up!  Perhaps Dayton will do something prior to leaving office.  That would be exciting.  But I’m not holding my breath…  The PUC had another hearing starting today on the Line 3 issue.  I was not expecting it to be such a railroaded process but in just over two hours, they made all their needed decisions and adjourned.  They continue to act as Enbrige Lap Dogs, to show they have no respect for Treaty Rights, to give no consideration to the Climate Catastrophe they are resigning this state to endure.  There will be more on this next week because I want us to continue to comprehend how the PUC is letting down the people of Minnesota.  But for today I will focus on election results and why we need to maintain hope.

With many positives happening in the courts favoring fossil fuel opposition you’d hope that we’d see government entities beginning to ditch Big Oil too.  Keystone XL was recently stopped, and Juliana v. United States should soon be moving forward again… or maybe not.  But hey, did I mention Keystone XL was stopped?!?  Globally the Dutch courts are holding their government to account, and there are similar cases in the US, Belgium, Norway and Ireland.  But then, there’s also three dudes in Delaware who want to challenge climate change regulations because their electricity bills will increase…

Big Oil Money seemed to still be powerful in the midterms, defeating opponents in both of their highly financed campaigns against Washington Initiative 1631 (which would have implemented a fee on carbon emissions) and Proposition 112 in Colorado (which would impose a 2500′ minimum from buildings and vulnerable areas for new gas and oil developments – instead leaving in place restrictions specifying that wells must be 1,000 feet from high-occupancy buildings such as schools and hospitals, 500 feet from occupied buildings such as homes, and 350 feet from outdoor areas like playgrounds…  Sorry, kids!) They also killed Ballot Measure 1 with 12:1 spending though I’m not sure that oil and gas state Alaska would have found protections for salmon – there’s just more money in oil than fish… for now.

Have I mentioned I don’t think enough people are contemplating how long we will be able to grow food for ourselves? Maybe you read last week’s blog which started a bit on our growing food concerns.  I mean, what about a recurrence of the Great Drought?  See South Africa, India, lots of other places where we are seeing ground water shortages already.  Park Rapids just had to re-dig a well to support the city due to agricultural damage.  Or what about how fast we’ve killed off all other mammals? 60% since 1970??  And that’s not to mention insects…  Wonder how we’ll all feel about our special paint brushes we carry everywhere once our pollinators are decimated.

“God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools.” ~ John Muir (1838-1914), Father of the National Parks

Activists like Muir who went ahead of us, gives me hope that we may win some upcoming battles.  A recent letter from MN Senator John Marty (DFL Senate District 66) to the PUC made excellent points and I include it here.

 

More on John Marty and his three fellow DFL Senators (Jim Carlson – SD 51, Chris Eaton -SD 40, and Patricia Torres-Ray – SD 63) who are supporting the StopLine3 movement in next week’s blog…

And what was the GOOD NEWS from the midterms?

Nevada did pass Question 6 regarding a 50 percent renewable energy mandate on state utilities by 2030.  And Amendment 9 in Florida passed banning offshore oil and natural gas drilling (but it’s not clear if that was due more to people who are annoyed by vaping, rather than those concerned with climate change, as these two unrelated ideas were slammed together in this Amendment).

And there is lots more happening.  Here are the cases to watch as we close out 2018.

Try not to lose hope.  And PLEASE DO ANYTHING YOU CAN.  Write to Governor Dayton.  Call your Senators and Representatives.  Talk with your neighbors.  Here is what I sent Governor-Elect Tim Walz today:

Many of the people I know and love met today with your Transition Team. I am hopeful that you will heed their advice and do everything you can to Stop Line 3. There is nothing more than MN can do as a state to mitigate the current Climate Catastrophe than to Stop Line 3. It is the equivalent to stopping 50 coal burning power plants. It will help us preserve the pristine waters of our North Woods and honor the Treaty Rights we agreed to uphold (I’m hopeful that you need no reminder that this is the highest law of the land), not to mention prevent the loss of thousands of tourism jobs that will be affected by a spill. Never forget. ALL PIPELINES LEAK.
There is much in the record of the Line 3 PUC Hearings: Intervenor Testimony, Public Commentary, Expert Evidence. But you can look no further than the latest news to see evidence of the Climate Crisis on our planet.
As a Native Nebraskan, you likely understand better than others the water crisis fast approaching. Nebraska is doing much to mitigate that aspect of our Climate Crisis. Protecting our Water means protecting our Farmers, the source of our local food. As a member of the National Guard, perhaps you were privy to the planning being done in our Military to assure needed resources for National Security. You may well know of the work being done on renewables as we siphon out the last of the dinosaur blood in the rocks below us. As an educator and father, you know the importance of our children. Hope and Gus are counting on you to protect this planet, not only for them, but for their children… and theirs. If only so you can proudly look them in the eye, do what is right for our planet, our country, and our state… our water, our land, our wildlife… our Indigenous and our loved ones.
Thank you for your consideration.

I know I can look myself in the eye when I look in the mirror.  I know my son is proud of the work his dad and I are doing.  My momma is proud too.  Take a moment today and do one thing to help in some way to keep our planet livable.  And then do it again tomorrow.

We are our best hope.