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Another good week in a busy activist’s life. Last Friday, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) gave Water Protectors another win as they issued a decision on Enbridge’s 401 Water Certification application: denial without prejudice.

“In June, the Court of Appeals found the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) inadequate, and MPCA cannot issue a 401 Certification until the Public Utility Commission (PUC) deems the EIS adequate. In addition, the MPCA required additional information regarding three primary areas – oil spill response modeling in the Lake Superior Watershed, a pre- and post- construction monitoring plan for aquatic resources, and a revised proposal for mitigating more than 400 acres of forested wetlands that will be impacted during construction.” 

MPCA 9-27-19 announcement denying Embrodge’s 401 Certification application.

This means that Enbridge will need to re-apply for a 401 Certification once they have all the proper documentation and response prepared. It also means that the US Army Corps of Engineers cannot issue their permits which rely on approval of the 401 Certification.

It will be interesting to see how this affects the process overall. While Enbridge expected this, they likely did not foresee the exponential escalation of climate awareness that will only fuel growing opposition to future fossil fuel infrastructure development.

The same day, the Canada Energy Regulator (CER) put a stop to Enbridge’s Mainline open season in the name of fairness. There is some speculation that the CER (previously the regulatory arm of the NEB, National Energy Board, which in years past generated concern with their seemingly too-close ties to and favorable treatment of the petroleum industry) may be acting in hopes to be seen as more principled than the NEB. And I’ve received technical analysis from a friend who believes it is a vote of “no confidence” in the long term future of the Canadian oil industry and particularly the Tar Sands. Regardless, this too is something to be considered by Minnesota’s Public Utility Commissioners as they proceed with the ongoing saga of Enbridge’s Line 3 proposal.

It seems Enbridge is facing opposition wherever they turn. And tomorrow will reveal the PUC response. If you’re local, please come out to support the Intervenors and Opposition Parties to the proposed Line 3 Tar Sands pipeline. We’ll need allies to stand with us as past experience shows Enbridge will be funding stooges to take up seats in the room to prevent the presence and engagement of Water Protectors.

Magically, these two announcements came just prior to Water Protectors from around the region gathering in Duluth, Minnesota for a powerful celebration of our work together and preparation for continued efforts to Stop Line 3.

Water Protectors standing for Gichigami (Lake Superior) 9-28-19

The Gichi Gami Gathering was the culmination of an idea that originated from MN350’s Andy Pearson. This powerful organizer and a boatload of environmental groups and individuals were led by Indigenous members of the #StopLine3 cause to create a beautiful, loving, powerful gathering. Skip Sandman opened the ceremony with good words and prayer. Then Sheila Lamb led our rally of speakers on topics associated with Line 3:

Unicorn Riot covered the event and I shared several livestreams including powerful speakers like Taysha Martineau and Michelle Naar-Obed and Dale Green who spoke eloquently and effectively on Treaty Rights. Perhaps most moving was teenager Izzy speaking on behalf of Honor the Earth – big thanks to MN350 live streamer Ellen Hadley for capturing them all!!! Here’s another great blog with good photos.

I am grateful for the many happy memories I will carry forward from this event. And I am hopeful for continued good news as we stand for the Water.