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Photo Credit: Minnesota Can’t Wait FB header

Last week I had quite the insight into our new Governor and so this week I share about the experience and the newly gained information. Unfortunately, I’m realizing I may have been right about this guy from the start in thinking that he’s too old, too white, and too bought to really stand with the people.

It all began with hearing a blip of an MPR news story on my jump into the car in Alexandria as I headed to the Cities for a weekend of meetings and training.  I was astounded to hear Governor Walz saying something that I knew was misleading… Ironically, I was headed for a meeting on Pipeline Resistance.   I had no idea how this news story would change the next 24 hours for me.

“We ran unabashedly that climate change will kill the planet and stop our future. We must act boldly and move forward on that. We said that, and a million people voted against us.” ~ Governor Tim Walz, commenting to youth from Minnesota Can’t Wait (hoping they’d fall for his implication that ALL those votes against him were about our climate crisis)

I listened as the story concluded with Hope, Mr. Walz’ 18-year-old daughter, coming from the back of the room to express interest in the group as if she could hold her dad accountable. (More on that later.) I knew this was something that I would ask about at the pipeline meeting later that evening. I was hopeful that someone from this youth meeting would be present there.

I felt an urgent need to address his comments when I soon heard another story on the radio about how The Great and Powerful Walz had asked his new Commissioner for the Department of Commerce, Steve Kelley, to review the DOC lawsuit against the PUC. Late last month, the DOC filed said suit, earning praise from then Governor Mark Dayton.

“The governor has asked the department to take another look, with the change of administrations, at the Enbridge litigation, and that’s my responsibility to do. And let’s say I just haven’t finished that job in the last two days.”

Steve Kelley, during a panel discussion hosted by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce as reported by Walker Orenstein in MinnPost 1/10/19

Did you read that as I did? Did you see that he says he hasn’t finished the job “in the last two days”? This means that one of the first items of business for Governor Walz, on DAY ONE, was to call into question the need for the DOC suit alleging that the PUC acted illegally in approving the Certificate of Need and Route Permit for Line 3.

“I put my Line 3 binder in my car this evening to read.

Steve Kelley, DOC Commissioner discussing the request by Gov Walz to review the issue

What environmentalists want to know is HOW BIG IS THIS BINDER? I mean, the Final Environmental Impact Statement easily filled a half dozen binders on its own. The full record includes many more binders’ worth of information relevant to this decision with weeks of public comment hearings, thousands of pages of input from written public comments (including those of over 68,000 in opposition to the project – and less than 4,000 in support) and testimony in front of the Administrative Law Judge who reviewed the Line 3 issue, ruling against the Enbridge proposal.

As such, members of MN350’s Pipeline Resistance Team planned an action in Governor Walz’ office to provide him with a few binders of our own. MN350 organized 5 binders from intervening parties (Friends of the Headwaters, Youth Climate Intervenors, Honor The Earth, and two tribal bands) with 1000 pages of documentation on the science against Line 3 and the violation it would pose to Treaty Rights. We took these binders, along with more than a dozen citizens from a variety of environmental and political groups to see TGaPW. One in our group was even a Supervolunteer from Walz’ campaign. We spoke to his receptionist asking for a meeting (AGAIN – this group had been to the office several times since the election and I believe this was the 4th time when I joined them). This time, we weren’t taking the “you can request to schedule a meeting” answer. We asked to speak to someone who could assure us a meeting IS scheduled.

Eventually, Patrick, TGaPW’ assistant Chief of Staff came out to join us. Several of us spoke again on how critical this decision on Line 3 is and why TGaPW needs to side with the science. After I admonished him for smiling (it really looked like a smirk but could have been a nervous tick) while I discussed in my statement the potential demise of thousands of plants and wildlife, Brian Pastarr stepped up as good cop and asked if Patrick could personally give us his commitment to follow through and get us a meeting.

It was an exhilarating experience and I will do this kind of thing again in a heartbeat. Made me uber happy to have been in town early for a weekend training so that I could participate in this action. And, was it worth it? Yes. On the car ride back to the office, we got a phone call from the Executive Director of MN350 noting that Walz’ Chief of Staff, Chris Schmitter, had been in contact to schedule a meeting. 🙂

Water Protectors at the Inaugural Ball had another successful action. Coverage in the Star Tribune indicated “a handful of protesters” but failed to mention that the Great and Powerful Walz himself never took the stage. (In fact there was some mention later in the evening about his being there “earlier” but I’m pretty sure he just greeted some folks in protected quarters. He didn’t take the stage during the actual ball at all.) I think it was because there were much more than a handful of Water Protectors present, many holding banners showing opposition to Line 3 and supporting the recognition of Treaty Rights. Tim is either afraid to face these citizens or is unsure how to address them. I can tell you from the personal report of one Indigenous young woman this past Friday at the Capitol and my personal witness of TGaPW interacting with an Indigenous elder friend of mine at the Bemidji “Listening Tour” stop, he has not done a great job to date. Listening is NOT his strong suit with citizens, at least not if you are Indigenous. I’m starting to wonder if Peggy Flanagan is a stooge.

Speaking of stooges, it appears TGaPW has also co-opted his own daughter. Hope, an 18-year-old high school student, was brought to the meeting where TGaPW spoke with Minnesota Can’t Wait, a group of young people working to urge him to act boldly on climate.  During his discussion with these youth, TGaPW said only three people spoke to him about climate change during the campaign.  This is so obvious a lie that it boggles the mind no one dared to question it.  I am sure that during his campaign stop in Alexandria alone more than a half dozen would have mentioned it as a concern.  

MN Can’t Wait wants TGaPW to Stop the Line 3 tar sands pipeline and all other proposed new fossil fuel projects to help speed the transition to clean, renewable energy sources. They want him to use existing legal authority to reduce and limit greenhouse gas pollution through the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.  And they want a Minnesota Green New Deal modeled after the National Green New Deal, a statewide bill calling for necessary actions to address climate change, while at the same time creating thousands of green jobs in a sustainable economy.

So what was Hope’s role? To act like she had an interest and would be holding her dad accountable.  But if you watch the video closely, you will see that, while the main youth speakers are reading their stories, she’s quietly consulting her phone or looking around, as if to see who might be watching her.  Her performance is less than stellar so, with no career in film acting, it’s maybe a good thing her daddy appears to be grooming her for public office.  He’s got a big job ahead of him in this venture.

While his performance during the campaign debates may have left his competitor confused about his stance on Line 3, more recently, TGaPW has noted that he will make the decision with the input of stakeholders. We all need to be in contact with him as each and every one of us citizens is a stakeholder when it comes to clean, drinkable water.  The people of Marshall, Michigan realized quickly how an oil breech can kill everything around it, including humans and animals sufficiently exposed, when dangerous chemicals needed for this sludge to push through the pipeline are released.  We cannot afford a catastrophe like this to impact Minnesota’s waters. It’s time to take a stand now for our clean water.

Walz said his administration is reviewing the matter and will soon make a decision. “There is always the potential in our system—and it’s healthy—to have judicial review or that capacity to go in if it’s warranted. If it’s not, then you continue to move forward,” he said. “So, we are just at an evaluation and a review stage right now.”

Tim Pugmire report from January 14, 2019

Send a comment. Make a call ~ 1-800-657-3717. Let him know if he doesn’t Stop Line 3 we will make him a one-term governor. Tell him the science backs STOPPING Line 3, as Dr. John Abraham from the University of St. Thomas describes, it would bring the CO2 equivalent of 50 coal-fired power plants. I submitted a Letter to the Editor to the Star Tribune which will apparently never get printed so I end with it here for your consideration. Just wish TGaPW would see it…

Is Walz with the Science on Line 3?

Since taking office, Governor Walz has repeatedly said to those urging him to Stop Line 3 that he’s “only been in office three hours”.  Yet on their third day in office, his newly appointed Department of Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley announced he had been directed by the Governor to evaluate whether or not to proceed with a recent DOC lawsuit.  Just before Governor Dayton left office, the DOC filed a lawsuit challenging the PUC’s decision to approve Enbridge’s New Line 3 Tar Sands pipeline project. Dayton praised the decision saying, “Enbridge failed to provide a future demand forecast for its product, which is required by state law.” 

Kelley’s announcement came the very day that Walz and Lieutenant Governor Peggy Flanagan met with Minnesota Can’t Wait, a group of youth calling for urgent and robust action to mitigate climate change for the sake of the their futures.  It also came one day prior to the delivery of a letter to Walz’ office signed by 2,500 who are urging him to expedite the Line 3 project. 

Kelley highlighted the administration’s commitment to “progressive values” and “making fact-based decisions.” Walz himself has stated his administration, “must follow a transparent, clear, and robust process that is based in facts and science.”  I can only hope that they are acting in good faith to abide by science and, with this additional review of the DOC lawsuit, preparing to put the final nails in the coffin for Line 3.  Tell Governor Walz to Stop Line 3.