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In the ongoing saga of the Sandpiper/Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline of Enbridge dreams, we are facing another unexpected road block.  Well, it’s not a road block really, more of a detour. While back on the campaign trail, then-Congressman Walz showed opposition to Line 3, we’re not so sure where he’s going to land now that we’ve given him the job as Governor. Below, I explain why.

Last Tuesday, it was reported that the Minnesota Court of Appeals had dismissed ALL the appeals that had been filed against the Public Utilities Commission on Enbridge’s Line 3 Tar Sands Pipeline Approval. 

What happened?

You may recall that the MN Department of Commerce (DOC) filed a lawsuit (late in then-Governor Dayton’s term) against the Public Utilities Commission for illegally approving Enbridge’s Line 3 Tar Sands pipeline. The DOC noted: “Enbridge did not introduce, and the Commission did not evaluate the accuracy of, a long-range demand forecast for the type of energy that would be supplied by the proposed facility.” 

Proof of demand was required in order to justify a Certificate of Need (CoN) be approved by the PUC.  The PUC did approve the CoN and, subsequently approved the Route Permit while stating that they did “not believe the climate science” brought by the Youth Climate Intervenors and other groups who are adamantly opposed to building a New Line 3. 

This line would be the first of many as Enbridge moves all its oil pipelines OFF the Leech Lake Reservation where Enbridge’s easement ends in 2029.  Their newly approved route would be a new corridor, destroying hundreds of thousands of plants and animals.  With the fossil fuel industry in its death throes, it seems illogical to invest in a bunch of new infrastructure that will not end up serving its lifetime and will likely be left as Enbridge slides into insolvency.

So why did the MN Court of Appeals decide to dismiss all the appeals?  Well, it’s a legal technicality thing.  The PUC (against normal practices) divided their approval into two parts – basically because Enbridge came to the last meeting with a bunch of extra promises to push their proposal over the line for approval. (Sad part is that none of these offerings is enough to mitigate the damage their pipeline brings as the CO2 equivalent is the same as 50 coal-fired power plants being installed in Minnesota.) 

The now-dismissed appeals were filed against the PUC approval from June but the Court is saying the REAL decision to appeal was the one the PUC finalized in January (during Walz’ term). (Sadly, this approval was on a value of insurance liability that will not cover the needed losses should we have a catastrophic failure like the one Enbridge had in Marshall, MI years ago.  God forbid we have such a major spill.  It will be impossible to remedy.  But we all know… ALL pipelines leak.)

So, the Court of Appeals noted that they would waive the filing fees. They were surely expecting all the parties to re-file their appeals with the court.  To do so, the first step is filing a Petition of Reconsideration by Tuesday at 4:30 PM.  (This merely gives them the option to re-file their appeal; it does not require them to do so.  Thus, this could turn into a longer waiting game…)

However, Walz is looking awful wishy washy on Line 3.  As one of his first decisions made in office was to ask the new DOC Commissioner to “review” the appeal to see if they still wanted to pursue it, he seems to be pushing to FAST-TRACK Line 3.  One can only assume that he’s doing this to pay back laborers for their support during his campaign.  However, far more jobs are available in the green infrastructure we’re going to need to transition away from fossil fuels, as directed in the IPCC’s October Report

A full-court press has been in progress with MANY Minnesotans calling the Governor’s office the past few week.  Walz had promised to meet with advocacy groups regarding Line 3 before he made his decision but, other than a rumored meeting Friday afternoon with unknown Tribal representatives, he has not yet done this for any groups.  Perhaps he’s meeting with pro-pipeline groups, but none of the anti-Line 3 groups that I’ve heard from have had an opportunity to meet with Walz to date, though I have watched the multiple requests made by MN350 during livestreams. The Transition Team months ago and now Walz’ Administrative Team more recently have both promised the group that a meeting would happen… but no. Not yet.

Tuesday will tell if The Great and Powerful Walz will have Dayton’s Backbone or Enbridge’s Money, as my friend Brian recently commented.  If you want to make a last minute call, you can reach him at 651-201-3400 (toll free at 800-657-3717). 

And tomorrow? We’ll see.